(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Reminiscences of James A. Hamilton; or, Men and events, at home and abroad, during three quarters of a century"






.^■% 



a. 



A ,0" ,.^'" '■ 















^jj^. ''■iN'' 



o 



.'^- 



1 ^- (I 






'^-■5^-^ 






O 



</^ 



,S 






V^ ^ ^ 









^i, <• 



^ 



^ . ,^v ^. ^ 






"1*0 



* » , A -' ' ^0 - 



^ .^•^': 'o''h 



%' .<^' 



^<^% 





















"00^ 



•-> 






,\ 













:^ <J 















^ ^ '■■ " / 



^ 












":- A\ 

,0 o 



-. N ^ aV 






-' '-7^ 



., ..^"^. ' 






• - ■ ,A^ 






r-^ 



.-^ 















•^ V 

o 0^ 



0°' ^\ 



fii:iA/^ ^ 









''K%^ 



% <i 



•^. 



\ » 






: - , A. .p '' ' ' » c <> - '^ '' 

^ " " / ^ . o ■ 



0,1, 



A^ 












,- ^^^ 






■*^^»^^lfc? 



A •/>- 



•-*^^ 



.A A.. - ,* v> -^ 



-^ A* ^ ■ ^ 












. -> c^ -i" oV •" ■, ~^X>^A* - -^ 



-S " ^ 



. :«, ■^- '"--^ ^^^ 






\ 






A^ 



c?-^ 



-/ 9^ 



0" A^ 



^ o <j ^ •/- '^ ^ " \ V 






.\ 



0^_. 







A 






ta;,. ■' 



X- A -.A . A ,\^ ^ 

* a 1 \ ' a"*' ''^ , ' " ■ lA 'CA 






,^X> « c^ 



'^C 



n % 






.0-' 



V, :■■■■ />% o ■ '<> c,^ -• ^%|''<'r^ ' 






,» ' « < 



o 



. 0-. -0' c 



"c^. 



C<. 



■</'^ 



o"^ 






.. ^ ' 6 A' 



xO<=^. 






^:^ '^_ 



^ 



0^0 



> , 



'h. 









C' 



' ', 







/ 



EEMINISCENOES 



OF 



/ 






JAMES A. HAMILTON; 



OK, 



MEN A.ND E'^^ENTS 



AT HOME AND ABROAD, 



DURING THREE QUARTERS OF A CENTURY. 




NEW YORK: 
CHARLES SCRIBNER & CO., 654 BROADWAY. 

1869. 



fS"^^ 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by 

CHARLES SCRIBNER & CO,, 

;u the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern 

District of Kew York. 



THE TKOW & SMITH 

Book MAyvFACTVitixo coMPAXi; 

4S, 4% M Greeni: Street) N. Y, 



PEEFACE. 



The author of tliis work, from a well-founded diffidence of his abilities, was 
induced to undertake this work by a desire to do justice to his Father against the 
aspersions of Mr. Jefferson, and more recently of Martin Van Buren, in his Inquiry 
into the origin of Political parties of the United States. lie had the good fortune 
to enjoy the society of His Father's cotemporaries, officers of the war of the 
Eevolution— members of the Government of the United States— Eufus King, Gou- 
verneur Morris, Col. Pickering, George Cabot, Oliver Wolcott, H. G. Otis, and those 
members of the Bar of New York who were his associates, Kent, Harrison, the 
Ogdens, Hoffman, Riggs, and others— and to learn from them incidents connected 
with his conduct in the important situations in which he was called to act. The 
work has been extended far beyond the original purposes of the author by recollec- 
tions which are assumed to have some public interest. 



COI^TEI^TS. 



ERRATA 



Pag3 184, 9th line from bottom — for "realized," read " }'e/i«W." 

" 227, 20th Hue from top— for " Boraush," read " Branch." 

" 552, date of letter to Wm. P. Fessenden— for " January 22, 1863," read "/«/?/ 
22, 1864." 

" 561, last line of page — for " my," rend " very."' 

" 571, 4th line from top — for "in," read "o«." 



cuity regaraing its repayment 40 

CHAPTERIII. 

EARLY POLITICAL LIFE. 

The American newspaper and the Bank of America — An inquiry into the conduct of 
Mr. Van Ness — Effect of the exposures — The duel hetween — The forged 
challenge to Aaron Burr — Retirement from office — The De Longuemar^ and 
Meade claims, &c. — Conversations between the Secretary of State and James A. 
Hamilton, relative to the Spanish treaty — The Presidental contest of 1824 — A 
visit to New Orleans' — General Jackson — -Incident of the battle of New Orleans 
— Eeturn home — Encounter with Indians — Correspondence with.M. Van Bureu 
— Appointed an Aide — Banks and Banking 48 



COISTTE^TS. 



CHAPTER I 



EARLY LIFE OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON. 



Birth and parentage — Recollections of Alexander Hamilton — Letter from Philip 
Hamilton — Charges against Alexander Hamilton examined and disproved — 
Unworthy insinuations of James Madison — Correspondence regarding Hauteval 
— The French Minister, Genet — Alexander Hamilton's professional life— Sketch 
of his career by himself — Jefferson's charges and insinuations examined — Char- 
acters of Jefferson and Hamilton compared — "Washington's opinion of Jefferson 
— Proof that Alexander Hamilton wrote Washington's Farewell Address — 
Hamilton's Financial System — Virginia State armory 1 

CHAPTER II. 

GRADUATION AND ENTRANCE ON POLITICAL LIFE. 

Graduation at Columbia College — Admission to the Bar — Speech at a Federal Meet- 
ing — A threatened duel — Marriage — Struggle with poverty — The bar of Colum- 
bia county — Bitter hostility of political parties — Unpublished pai-ty liistory- 
A political dinner i)arty--Removal to New York — A Master in Chancery — The 
Morris Estate — Louis Philippe in exile — A loan from Gouverneur Morris — Diffi- 
culty regarding its repayment 40 

CHAPTER III. 

EARLY POLITICAL LIFE. 

The American newspaper and the Bank of America — An inquiry into the conduct of 
Mr. Van Ness — Effect of the exposures — The duel between — The forged 
challenge to Aaron Burr — Retirement from office — The De Longuemarff and 
Meade claims, &c. — Conversations between the Secretary of State and James A- 
Hamilton, relative to the Spanish treaty — The Presidental contest of 1824 — A 
visit to New Orleans — General Jackson — Incident of the battle of New Orleans 
— Return home — Encounter with Indians — Correspondence withM. Van Bureu 
— Appointed an Aide — Banks and Banking 48 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER IV. 

FROM DECEMBER, 1827 DECEMBER, 1828. 

A visit to New Orleans— Gen. Jackson at liome— A banquet in ISTashville— Incidents 
of the Battle of New Orleans— Anecdotes about Gen, Jackson— Threat to shoot 
a river pilot— Mrs. Jackson's Arrival at New Orleans — Entertainments— A negro 
ball — Mobile— Adventure with the Indians— Impressions of Gen. Jackson- 
Political manoeuvres— Offer of a position as aide-de-camp on Gov. Van Buren's 
staff— The offer declined, but the appointment made— Paper on banks and bank- 
ing 67 

CHAPTER V. 

FROM JANUARY, 1829 APRIL, 1829. 

Election of General Jackson to the Presidency— Formation of the Cabinet— Extract 
from letters— Gov. Van Buren Secretary of State— James A. Hamilton Acting Sec- 
retary—Letters from Mr. Van Buren to Majhr Eaton and to James A. Ham- 
ilton — The Evening Post and political affairs— The foreign appointments — Ap- 
plications for appointment to office — President Jackson's inaugural address — 
Memoranda on foreign affairs by Henry Clay — John Quincy Adams and Alex- 
ander Hamilton— Convention with Great Britain— Piracies— Depredations by 
inhabitants of New Brunswick — Treaty with Mexico — Social and political com- 
plications — Letters from Mr. Gallatin— Correspondence with "William Coleman 
— The Minister to France — How Mr. Eives was appointed — Excitement on 
removal 87 

CHAPTER VI. 

FROM APRIL 23, 1829— DECEMBER 16, 1830. 

Mr. Hamilton appointed District Attorney for the Southern District of New York — 
DiflBculties of the Position — Judgment against Edward Livingston — Its Settle- 
ment — Letters from Martin Van Buren — Instructions to Ministers Eives and 
McLaiie — Mr. Rhind's Negotiations with the Porto: — Mr. Van Buren on the 
Newspapers — The Eaton Affair considered in tlie Cabinet — A Long Account 
by Mr. Van Buren— General Jackson's Message— The National Bank — General 
Jackson and Congress — Memorial on the German Trade 140 — 

CHAPTER VII. 

FROM JANUARY. 1831 — JANUARY, 1834. 

Foreign affairs — Vindication against Mr. Calhoun's charges — Mr. Ehind and the 
horses presented by the Sublime Porte — The negotiations with the Sublime 
Porte — Resignation of Mr. Van Buren — Changes in the Cabinet — The jewels 
stolen from the Princess of Orange — Their recovery— The nullification move- 
ment — Gibbs the pirate — The United States Bank — Kesignation 193 - 



CONTENTS. VU 

CHAPTER VIII. 

FROM JANUARY, 1834 — MARCH, 1841. 

The Bank question — Views of President Jackson — Projects submitted — Letters from 
Mr. Van Buren — President Jackson refuses to modify liis plans — Efforts to aid 
the Government — Attempt to assassinate the President — War threatened — The 
great fire in the city of New York — Account of the way in whicla it was arrested 
— First visit to Europe — Sketches of distinguished people — A visit to Talley- 
rand 269 

CHAPTER IX. 

FROM MARCH, 1841 JULY, 1844. 

Letter to President Harrison on our relations with Italy, &c. — The Constitutionality 
of a United States Bank— Opinion of Wm. Beach Lawrence — Letter to Henry 
Clay — Second voyage to Europe — Visit to Russia — Object of the journey — Dif- 
ficulties with the Russian officials — An Appeal to the Emperor — Succes^^ful result 
— Notes on Russian manners and custonis — A Ball at the palace — Journey to 
England— Interview with Lord Aberdeen — Letter from Mr. Seward — The Dorr 
Insurrection 314 

CHAPTER X. 

FROM JULY, 1847 APRIL, 1848. 

Offer of services to the Government — The Chicago Internal Improvement Convention 
— Letters from Daniel Webster — xVffaii-s in the Papal Dominions — To England 
and France — Arrival at Florence — Outbreak of the Revolution in Tuscany — 
Government Institutions in the Papal States — Financial affairs — Military force — 
Population of Italy — Memorandum submitted to the Pope — Memorandum from 
an English gentleman — Reflections by J. A. Hamilton upon the political condi- 
tion of Italy — From Rome to Naples — An interview with Ibrahim Pacha, Vice- 
roy of Egypt — ^ A messenger from the Italian Liberals — Mr. Hamilton determines 
not to join the Committee — A warning of the rising — The Vienna Revolution — 
General uneasiness throughout the Continent — Holland — The Harlem Sea — In- 
cident of the Revolution in Paris — Letter from George Sumner 354 

CHAPTER XI. 

FROM 1850—1859. 

Neutrality of the Isthmus of Panama — The Panama Railroad — Communications to 
President Taylor and the Secretary of the Treasury — The yacht America — 
Particulars of her contests and victories — Letters from J. A. Hamilton to 
Samuel Rogers — Interesting^ letters from Hon. Edward Everett — Tlis oration on 
Washington— Mr. Everett's political views — Hamilton Fish on the Whig party 
and the Know Notbings — Suggestions to Lewis Cass — Letter from Lewis Cass 



Vm CONTENTS. 

— Call for a public meeting to arrest Disunion — Plan to assist in bringing the 
breadstuffs from the interior to tlie seaboard — E. H. Pendleton on Irving's Life 
of Washington — Letter from Gov. King on financial affairs — Fifth voyage to 
Europe — Letter to F, P. Blair — Hints upon political affairs — The President's 
power of appointment and removal — Letter from Daniel Webster on the politi- 
cal situation 393 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE KEBELLION. 

Preliminary Observations — Letter to the Hon. John Cochrane — The contest for 
the Speakership in tlie House of Representatives in 1860 — The Missouri Com- 
promise — Henry Clay and Samuel L. Southard — Effect of Eebellion on State 
Governments — Coinproraises of the Constitution — Letter to Thomas Cotsvrood 
Pinckney — Notes on ISTullification — Memorandum on Secession submitted to 
President Buchanan — Letters from J. M. Read and Hon. John Coclirane — Letter 
to Senator Morgan — Call for a Meeting to preserve the Union — Letter to Presi- 
dent Buchanan — Effort to reinforce Major Anderson in Foi-t Sumter — English 
sympathy with Southern Rebellion explained 440 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE KEBELLION, CONTINUED. 

An appeal to arms inevitable— Letters to President Lincoln, Secretary Chase, &c. — 
Letter from George Sumner — Offer of services — Visit to Washington — Inter- 
view with President Lincoln — Plan of operations suggested — Proposal to free 
the Negroes — Return to New York — Meeting with financiers — Results reported 
— Democratic Association of the Friends of Freedom— Suggestions to Mr. Chase 
— Letters to Sees. Cameron and Wells — Letter from Washington Hunt — Dr. 
Lieber — Kentucky , 468 



CHAPTER XIV. 

JANUARY, 1862 — DECEMBER, 1862. 

Letters to Mr. Chase on Banking Associations and Financial affairs— Restoration of 
the Rebellious States — Letter from Hon. S. Hooper — Emancipation meeting at 
Cooper Listitute — Address — Letter to Gov. Morgan on registering voters — Letter 
to Senator Sumner on the internal Slave trade — Letter to Charles Fames on the 
Slavery question — " Suggestions for the consideration of those who are much 
wiser than he who makes them " — Currency — Foreign Policy — The call of the 
President for volunteers — Arming the Negroes — Letter to President Lincoln on 
the crisis — Circular to Governors of the Loyal States — Raising troops — Inter- 
vieAvs and suggestions to Secretary Chase — President Lincoln 507 



CONTENTS. IX 

CHAPTER XV. 

1863—1866. 

Suggestions to Mr. Oliase— Letter to Secretary Fessenden — Notes at interest and 
convertible — Texas, its true condition and means of treatment — Letter to Sena- 
tor Sumner— Napoleon and Mexico— Passage of Secretary Chase's banking 
bill—Selection of Mr. Olcott as Comptroller of the Currency — A suggestion 
about Savings Banks — Commission to inquire into the condition of the Freed- 
inen — The invasion of Pennsylvania— The riots in New York — Threatened dif- 
ficulty at Tarrytown— The enlistment of blacks — Eevenue to be derived from 
mines— Proposed act to abolish slavery — Levying export duties— Payment of 
the interest on the State debt in coin— The Chicago platform and the nomina- 
tions-Mr. Fessenden Secretary of the Treasury— Public lands and tlie public 
debt — False charges by the Confederate Congress 550 



APPENDIX. 

APPENDIX A. 

Eeport upon the condition of our foreign relations made to President Jackson by 
James A. Hamilton, acting Secretary of State 587 

APPENDIX B. 

A letter addressed to a distinguished member of the Chicago Convention 611 

APPENDIX C. 

Examination of the power of the President to remove from ofBce during the 
recess of the Senate 614^ 

APPENDIX D. 

Property in Man. Letter from Hon. James A. Hamilton on the Doctrine of the 
Constitution concerning Slavery 624 



REMIl^ISCElNrOES 



OF 



JAMES A. HAMILTON. 



CHAPTER I. 

EARLY LIFE OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON. 

Birtli and parentage— Recollections of Alexander Hamilton— Letter from Philip 
Hamilton — Charges against Alexander Hamilton examined and disjtroved — 
Unworthy insinu.itions of James Madison— Correspondence regarding Hauteval — 
The French Mini-ter, Genet — Alexander Hamilton's professional life— Sketch 
of his career by liimself— Jefferson's charges and insinuations examined— Char- 
acters of Jefferson and Hamilton compared — Washington's opinion of Jefferson 
— Proof that Alexander Hamilton wrote Washington's Farewell Address- 
Hamilton's Financial System — Virginia State armory. 

In my seventj-ninth year I have employed a winter's leisure in committing 
to paper these recollections of a varied and somewhat eventful life. Without 
having been a principal actor in any of those affairs of public interest to which 
I shall refer, I have had peculiar opportunities for understanding the purposes 
and appreciating the characters of many of the leaders in these transactions, 
and T indulge the hope that I may now and then be able to throw a valuable 
side-light upon events in our past history, which, though they may have some- 
times been of merely local importance, were often of public interest and concern. 

Born in the city of New York on the 14th April, 1788, the third son of a 
family of six sons and two daughters, the children of Alexander Hamilton 
and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, daughter of Major-General Philip Schuy- 
ler, of the llevolution, my earliest recollection of my parents is a journey 
we made from Pliiladelphia to Albany by land, during the autumn of 1793. 
The yellow fever having broken out in Philadelphia, both my father and mother 
were attacked by the disease at the same time. As soon as they were sufficiently 
recovered they set out for Albany, where my maternal grandfather lived ; but 
60 great was the apprehension of contagion, that the family, when they arrived 
opposite to New York, were obliged to continue their journey on the west side 
of the river without going into the city, and on approaching Albany they were 
1 



2 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

required to halt until tliey obtained the permission of tlie public authorities to 
go to the house of General Schuyler, which was in the fields south of the city. 
During this illness of my parents they were attended by Dr. Edward Stevens, 
of St, Croix, the person to whom Hamilton addressed the following remarkable 
letter, written when he was 12 years old : 

" St. Croix, November 11, 1TG9. 
" To Edward Stevens. New York. 

"DeauISTed: — This serves to acknowledge the receipt of yours, per Captain 
Lowndes, which was delivered me yesterday. The truth of Captain Lightbower's 
and Lowndes' information is noAV verified by the presence of your father and sister, 
for Avhose safe arrival I pray, and that they may convey that satisfaction to your 
sonl that must naturally flow from the sight of absent friends in health, and shall for 
news tliis way refer you to them. As to what you say respecting your soon having the 
happiness of seeing us all, I wish for an accomi^lisbment of your liopes, provided they 
are concomitant wiili your welfare, otherwise not, tliough I doubt whether I shall 
be present or not, for to confess my weakness, Ned, my ambition is prevalent, so that 
I contemn tlie grovelling condition of a clerk,* or the like, to whicli my fortune con- 
demns me, and would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to exalt my 
station. I am confident, Ned, that my youth excludes me from any hopes of imme- 
diate preferment, nor do I desire it, but I mean to prepare the way for futurity. I 
am no philosopher, you see, and may justly be said to build castles in the air. My 
folly makes me ashamed, and beg you will conceal it. Yet Neddy we have seen 
such schemes successful wlien the projector is constant. I shall conclude by saying 
I wish there was a war. 

" P. S. I this moment received yours, by "William Smith, and am pleased to see 
you give such close application to study." 

After his recovery, Hamilton wrote the following letter to the physicians of 
Philadelphia : 

"It is natural to be afflicted, not only at the mortality which is said to obtain, 
but at the consequences of that undue panic whicii is fast depopulating the city and 
suspending business, both public and private. I have myself been attacked with 
the reigning putrid fever and witli violence, but I trust that I now am completely 
out of danger. This I am to attribute, under God, to the skill and care of my friend 
Dr. Stevens, a gentleman from tlie Island of St. Croix, and to wliose talents I can 
attest from an acquaintance begun in early youth." 

A, Hamilton to Mr. James Hamilton, St. Thomas. 

" New Youk, June 23, 1785. 
" My Deae Brotiiek : — I have received your letter of the 31st of May last, which 
and one other are the only letters I have received from you in many years. You 
did not receive one which I wrote to you about six monflis ago. The situation you 
describe yourself to be in gives me much pain, and notliing will make me happier 
than, as far as maybe in my power, to contribute to your relief." 

* Hamilton was born on the Hth January, iVoY. He was a clerk in the Counting House 
of Nicholas Crugcr, and in November, I'/Tl, as appears by his Counting House letters, was in 
charge of the business of that bouse in St. Croix. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A, HAMILTON. 6 

"I will cheerfully pay yonr draft upon me for fifty pounds sterling, whenever it 
shall appear. I wish it was in my power to desire you to enlarge the sum, but 
though my future prospects are of the most flattering kind, my present engagements 
would render it inconvenient to me to advance you a larger sum. My affection for 
you, however, will not i^ermit me to be inattentive to your welfare, and I hope time 
will prove to you, that I feel all the sentiments of a brother. Let me only request 
of you to exert your indfustry for a year or two more where you are, and at the end 
of that time I promise myself to be able to invite you to a more comfortable settle- 
ment in this country. Bnt what has become of our dear father? It is an age since 
I have heard from him or of him, thongh I have written him several letters. Per- 
haps, alas, he is no more, and I shall- not have the pleasing opportunity of contribut- 
ing to render the close of his life more happy than the progress of it. My heart 
bleeds at the recollection of his misfortunes and embarrassments. Sometimes I flat- 
ter myself his brothers have extended tlieir support to him ; and that he now enjoys 
tranquillity and ease. At other times I fear he is suffering ia indigence. Should 
he be alive, inform him of my inquiries ; beg him to write to me, and tell him how 
ready I shall be to devote mysfelf and all I have to his accommodation and happi- 
ness. 

"Believe me always, your affectionate friend and brother." 

Hamilton entered upon the duties of his office of Secretary of the Treasury 
on the 13th of September, 1789. On his resignation, 31sfc of January, 1795, he 
left Philadelphia and went to the house of General Schuyler, in Alban}^, where 
he remained until the summer, when he returned to New York and resumed his 
business as a lawyer. During the first year in New York he lived in a small 
house in Pine-street. From thence he removed to the house No. 24 Broadway, 
where he lived until 1802, when he removed to a country seat eight and a 
half miles from the city. This place he called the " Grrauge, " and here he con- 
tinued to live until his death in July, 1804. During his residence in the coun- 
try he generally drove back and forth in a two-wheeled carriage with a single 
horse. His family at that time consisted of his wife, five sons and two daughters 
(his eldest son Philip having been killed in a duel on the 24th of November, 
1802), and Fanny, the orphan child of Col. Autle (who was killed in the Rev- 
olutionary war). She was educated and treated in all respects as his own 
daughter, and married Mr. Tappau, an eminent philanthropist of New York. 

Hamilton's gentle nature rendered his house a most joyous one to his child- 
ren "and friends. He accompanied his daughter Angelica when she played and 
sang at the piano. His intercourse with his children was always afiectionate 
and confiding, which excited in them a corresponding confidence and devotion. 
I distinctly recollect the scene at breakfast in the front room of the house in 
Broadway. My dear mother, seated as was her wont at the head of the table with 
a napkin in her lap, cutting slices of bread and spreading them with butter for 
the younger boys, who, standing at her side, read in turn a chapter in the Bible 
or a portion of Goldsmith's, Rome. When the lessons were finished the father 
and the elder children were called to breakfast, after which the boys were pack- 



4 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A, HAMILTON. 

ed off to school. The following letters to his two children will perhaps be con- 
sidered by many sufl&ciently interesting to warrant me in printing them. 

To Philip Hamilton. 

" PniLADELPniA, December 5, 1791, 

" I received with great pleasure, my dear Philip, the letter which you wrote ine 
last week. Your mamma and myself were very happy to learn that you are pleased 
"with your situation and content to stay as long as shall be thought best for yon. We 
hope and believe that nothing will happen to alter this disposition. 

" Your master also informs us that you recited a lesson the first day you began, very 
much to his satisfaction. I expect every letter from him will give me a fresh proof 
of your progress, for I know you can do a great deal if you please, and I am sure you 
have too much spirit not to exert yourself that you may make us every day more aud 
more proud of you. 

" You remember that I engaged to send for you next Saturday, and I will do it un- 
less you request me to put it oif ; for a promise must never be broken, and I never will 
make you one which I will not fill as far as I am able ; but it has occurred to me 
that the Christmas holidays are near at hand, and I suppose your school will then 
break up for a few days and give you an opportunity of coming to stay with us for a 
longer time than if you should come on Saturday. "Will it not be best therefore to 
put off your journey till the holidays? but determine as you like best, and let me 
know what will be most pleasing to you. A good-night to my darling Son."' 

The following is copied from a mutilated paper : 

To Miss Angelica Hamilton. 

'•Sept. 21, 1793. 
" I was very glad to learn, my dear daughter, you were going to begin the study of 
the French language. We hope you will in every respect behave in such a maimer 
as will secure to you the good-will and regard of all those with whom you are. If 
you happen to displease any of them, be always ready to make a frank apology. But 
the best way is to act with so much politeness, good manners aud circumspection, as 
never to have an occasion to make any apology. Your mother joins in best love to 
you. Adieu, ray very dear daughter." 

Hamilton's kindness of disposition and generosity were not confined to his 
own family. He was always ready to give help to those in trouble ; even when 
he could ill afford it. I have a picture of my mother, painted by " T. Earle in 
1787." This precious relic is due to the benevolence of my fatlier. Mr. Earle, 
who was an artist of reputation, having been imprisoned for debt in New York, 
Hamilton induced my mother, then about 28 years of age, to go to the debtors' 
jail to sit for her portrait ; and she induced other ladies to do the same. By 
this means the artist made a sufficient sum to pay his debts. 

Hamilton induced the Holland Land Company to give Mrs. Robert Morris, the 
widow of the eminent financier of the Revolution, an annuity which supported 
her comfortably. He also obtained for his friend, Col. Troup, the agency of that 
Company in the western part of New York, by which he became quite indepen- 
dent if not Avealth3\ 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 5 

Col, Duer, a gallant soldier of the Revolution, -who gambled in the public 
stocks, was ruined and sent to jail by his creditors, where he remained for five 
years. Hamilton addressed to certain of Duer's creditors the following letter. 

" Dear Sir : 

" Poor Duer has now had a long and severe confinement, such as ■would be ade- 
quate punishment for no trifling crime. I am well aware of all the blame to which he 
is liable, and do not mean to be his apologist, though I believe he has been as much 
the dupe of his own iraaginatiou as others have been victims of his projects. But 
what then ? He is a man — he is man with whom we have both been in habits of 
friendly intimacy. He is a man who, with a great deal of good zeal, in critical times 
rendered valuable services to the country. He is a husband, who has a most worthy 
and amiable wife perishing with chagrin at his situation — your relative and mine. 
He is a father, who has a number of fine children destitute of the means of education 
and support, every w^ay in need of his future exertions. These are titles to sympa- 
thy which I shall be mistaken if you do not feel. You are his creditor, your esam.ple 
may influence others. He wants permission through a letter of license freely to 
breathe the air for five years. Your signature to the inclosed draft of one, will give 
me much pleasure. Your obt. servt. 

"A. Hamilton." 

/ Hamilton's means were not at any time large ; although at the time of 
his death his income was rapidly improving. Further on I shall examine 
the charge brought against him, that, by keeping his friends informed of the 
financial measures he was about to take, he enabled many of them to amass enor- 
mous fortunes, and will prove that these charges, first invented and then kept 
in circulation by Mr. Jefi'erson, had no foundation in truth. But whatever he 
may have been accused of doing for his friends ; no one, not even Mr. Jefi'erson, 
ever charged Hamilton with having made a fortune out of the ofiiceof Secretary 
of the Treasury. After he was admitted to the bar in New York, and until he 
was called to the Cabinet of Washington, he practised in New York, and was so 
successful as to be enabled to purchase certain houses and lots of land iu Wall- 
street, at that time one of the fashionable dwelling quarters. These houses 
were, however, sold while he held the ofl&ce of Secretary of the Treasury, and 
the balance, after paying a mortgage on them, went to the support of his family, 
for which his salary, three thousand dollars, was insufficient. When he returned 
to his practice after. his resignation, he formed an arrangement with Messrs. 
Thomas L. Ogden and Ludlow Ogden, two brothers, by which they performed 
the duty of attorney and received all the emoluments thereof, while Ham- 
ilton received the counsel fees. The arrangement was thus represented to me 
in the year 1 803 by Mr. Washington Morton, a lawyer in good standing, who 
had married my mother's sister. On a visit to the Grange, my uncle told me 
that the Messrs. Odgen were receiving a very large amount as the Attorneys 
of my father's business, of which he received no part, whereas if he were to re- 
ceive only one half of the sum his profits would be vastly increased. He then 
intimated that he would be much pleased to make an arrangement with my 



6 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

father, as his attorney, on such terms. I asked him why he did not propose it. 
He said he did not wish to interfere in the matter, but at the same time he ex- 
pressed a wish that I should make the proposition for him to my father. 

While we were living at the Grange I used to drive out with my father, and 
often accompanied him when he dined with his friend Gouverneur Morris, Dur- 
ing one of these drives, soon after my conversation with my uncle, I told my 
father what I had learned, and made the suggestion which Mr. Morton had re- 
quested. He rejDlied without hesitation, " No, my son ; if I received a part of 
the profits of that business, I should be responsible for it; as I cannot attend 
to it, I cannot consent to receive what I do not earn." I think it was durin-^- 
the same drive that he related the following anecdotes which, though not strictly 
in place here, may be inserted as giving a similar illustration of his integrity : 
" When I first came to the bar I happened to be in court when a woman was 
arraigned as a thief, who pleaded ' not guilty.' She had no counsel, and the 
court assigned me to that duty. I asked her what defence she had. She re- 
plied that she had none. The prosecution went on to prove the charge by cir- 
cumstantial evidence ; when that was closed the case was to be argued. I 
opened to the jury, and after endeavoring to destroy the connection of the cir- 
cumstances, I said : ' Gentlemen of the jury ; Woman is weak, and requires 
the protection of man ;' and upon this theme I attempted to awaken the 
sympathies of the jury, and with such success that I obtained a verdict of ' not 
guilty.' I then determined that I would never again take up a cause in which 
I was convinced I ought not to prevail." On another occasion a man from 
Long Island called upon him to retain him in a suit brought by the heirs of 
an estate of which he was the executor. He placed on the writing table near 
my father a large fee in gold, and then stated his case. Hamilton pushed the 
gold back to him, and said, "I will not be retained by you in such a cause. 
Take your money ; go home and settle without delay with the heirs, as you are 
in justice bound to do." 

The following letter, addressed by Hamilton to Mr. Gouverneur in 1792, is 
worthy of attention as manifesting a proper sensibility to the character of his 
profession : 



" Mr. B. last evening delivered me your letter, enclosing a copy of your corre- 
spondence with Mr. Lewis." * * * "In one other respect I feel myself paiu- 
' fiillj situated, having received a favorable impression of your character. I am sorry 
to observe any thing to have come from you which I am obliged to consider as ex- 
ceptionable. Your second letter to Mr. Lewis contains a general and of course an 
unjustifiable reflection on the profession to which I belong, and of a nature to put it 
out of my power to render you any service in the line of that profession. I readily 
believe you did not attend to the full force of the expression when you tell Mr, 
Lewis, ' Attorneys like to make the most of their bills of costs,' but it contains in it 
(itlier insinuations which cannot be pleasing to any man in the profession, and what 
must oblige any one that lias proper delicacy to decline the business of a person wlio 
professedly entertains such an idea of the conduct of this profession. I make allow- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 7 

ance for your feelings when you wrote that letter, and am therefore reluctantly drawn 
into these observations." 

Acting, as Hamilton uniformly did, upon such principles, it will not be sur- 
prising that he was long in reaching a point where his earnings were in any 
proper proportion to his great abilities or to his unflagging industi'y. 

James Madison, the Fourth President of the United States, and the 
associate of Hamilton in writing The Federalist^ fifteen days after his former 
intimate friend had withdrawn from the Department of the Treasury, addressed 
a letter to Mr. Jefferson, dated February 15, 1795, in which he says: " It is 
pompously announced in the newspapers that poverty drives llamillon hach to tlie 
lar for a livelihood^ This unworthy insinuation is best answered by the follow- 
ing facts : 

When Hamilton was a delegate from New York to Congress, he addressed 
the following letter to Governor Clinton : 

" PniLADELPniA, December 18, 1782. 

" Dear Sir : I shall very shortly be out of cash, and shall be much obliged to you 

to forward me the State allowance. It will answer as well in Mr. Morris's notes as 

in specie, provided the notes have not more than a fortnight or so to run. It will 

be better if they are due. A disappointment in this will greatly embarrass me, and 

from what your Excellency said, I take it for granted it cannot happen. Nothing new 

except a probable account of the evacuation of Charleston. I have the honor to be, 

with great esteem, 

" Your most obedient servant." 

On the 30th September, 1791, Hamilton, then Secretary of the Treasury, 
wrote thus to a friend : 

"Dear Sir : If you can conveniently let me have twenty dollars for a few days, 
be so good as to send it by the bearer. I have just put myself out of cash by pay- 
ment of Major I'Enfauts' bill." 

" Memorandum by the lender : — ' Gave a check dated September 30, 1791, for fifty 
dollars.' " 

Talleyrand remarked to a friend : " I have beheld one of the wonders of 
the world. I have seen a man who has made the fortune of a nation laborincf 
all night to support his family." 

Talleyrand came to this country in 179-1:, with a letter of introduction to 
Hamilton from Mrs. Church, the sister of Mrs. Hamilton. He had occasion to 
pass Hamilton's office late at night and early in the morning, and each time saw 
Hamilton's lamp burning.* My father was so poor at his death that his pro- 

* Mr. George Ticknor, in a letter dated Januaiy, 1819, wiites : "Talking with Prince 
Talleyrand about his visit to America, he expressed the highest aduuration of Hamilton, 
Baying, among other things, that he had known nearly all the marked men of his time; btit 
that he had never known one, on the whole, equal to him. I was much surprised and grati- 
fied by the remark, but still feeling that as an American I was in some sort a party concerned 
by patriotism in the compliment, I answered with a little reserve, that the great military com- 
manders and statesmen of Europe had dealt with larger masses and wider interests than he 
had. ' Mais, Monsieur ! ' the Prince instantly replied, 'Hamilton avait divine TEurope !' " 



8 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

perty was not sufficient to pay Lis debts. Several of his friends advanced 
money for that purpose. 

Timothy Pickering to General Washington. 

" Trenton, October 20, 1798. 

" Sir : Recollecting your anxiety that General Pinckney might feel satisfied with 
the military arrangements of general oflScers proposed by yon, I seize the first 
moment to relieve you from it. TLiis morning Mr. McIIenry has received from 
General Hamilton a letter dated yesterday, in which is the following passage. 
After mentioning the arrival of General Pinckney, General Hamilton says : ' You 
will learn with pleasure that he sent me a message by young Eutledge, purporting 
his entire satisfaction with the military arrangements and readiness to serve under 
my command. Communicate this to our friends Pickering and Walcott, as I am not 
well enough to write them by this post.' I think in a former letter I expressed my- 
self confidently that General Pinckney's good sense and patriotism, joined with his 
great respect for you, would ensure his satisfaction with your arrangement. The 
correspondence between Talleyrand and Gerry, concerning X. Y. & Z., you will 
recollect oflended the delicacy of the latter gentleman, who avowed himself by the 
name of Hauteval, and addressed to Talleyrand a letter declaring ' that his delicacy 
could not but be severely hurt to see himself, under the appellation of Z, performing 
a part in the company with certain intriguers, whose object doubtless was to derive 
advantage from the credulity of the American envoys, and to make them their 
dupes.' The quality of this gentleman's delicacy you will see in the following extract 
of a letter from Mr. King, which I received this morning. 'Colonel Trumbull, who 
was at Paris soon after the arrival there of the commissioners, has more than once 
informed me that Hauteval told him that both the douceur and the loan were indis- 
pensable, and urged him to employ his influence with the American Commissioners 
to ofter the bribe as well as the loan.' The corruption of these scoundrels is 
unbounded. In the publication of the despatches from our envoys, although not 
enjoined secrecy in respect to Mr. Hauteval, yet as the envoys mentioned him with 
respectful language, I voluntarily substituted Z for his proper name. 

" I am with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant, &c." 

At a dinner party in New York, shortly after the close of the Revolutionary 
wai-, at which were present Messrs. Gr. Morris, John Jay, R. Harrison, John Dela- 
field, Robert Lenox, Nicholas Law, I. O.Hoffmann and Alexander Hamilton, 
the question was discussed whether the purchase of wild lands or of lots in the 
suburbs of the city would be the more profitable investment. John Jay was 
in favor of New York, and made purchases there, and as his means enabled him 
to hold his lots, his speculation made him rich. Hoffmann also bought land in 
the vicinity of the city. Some of the others, including my father, took the 
opposite view, and invested in the lands in the northern counties of the State. 
The wild lands were purchased at a few cents the acre, but they were not settled 
very rapidly.* After the death of Hamilton, it was found, as I h.ave already 

* It is said that the State of New York sold about seven millions of acres at eight cents 
an acre. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 9 

said, that his means were not equal to the payment of his debts, and several 
friends therefore advanced money for that purpose, taking these lands in pay- 
ment. 

Having learned that Major William Popham, one of the gentlemen -who had 
shown this kindness to my father, was at. an advanced period of life in poor cir- 
cumstances, I addressed him the following letter : 

" New York, October 14, 1824. 

" My deae Sir : I was this day for the first time informed by a person who be- 
came acquainted with the circumstance at the time it occurred, that you advanced 
one hundred dollars to pay my father's debts. The gratitude that is due to you 
from every meaiber of his family for this generous act can never be effaced. You 
must theref ire believe that I do not send you the enclosed cbecque for tl)e same 
sum in the liope of cancelling what is due to you, but in obedience to the sacred 
injunction of my father, and because under present circumstances it may promote 
your convenience. 

"I requested Mr. Pendleton, one of my father's executors, to inform me of the 
arrangements made to pay my father's debts, for at that time I was but young. He 
informed me with reluctance that my father's lands in Scriba's Patent had been 
taken by certain gentlemen in this city, whose names he would not mention, at 
prices which, he said, were perhaps a little more than they were worth at the time. 
These gentlemen hoped with the amount thus raised, and the sums due my father, to 
pay his debts and leave the Grange clear for his family. 

"I mention this to show you that I have not been indifferent to this very delicate- 
matter, and that if in my course tlirough life I should have come in collision witli 
any of those persons (with you, I am happy to say, I am sure I have not) to whom 
I am indebted for these or similar acts of generous devotion to my father's memory,, 
it has been in ignorance, and must always be to me a subject of deep and mortifying 



regret. 



" "With great regard, your friend and obedient servant, 

" James A. Hamilton." 

During a visit I made to Boston, I was the guest of the Hon. George Cabot. 
He then related to me the following anecdote as to the French Minister Genet. 
The conduct of this French Minister was most outrageous ; so much so that 
Washington, after long forbearance, under the urgent advice of his friends,, 
decided to give him notice that the Government would hold no further official, 
intercourse with him. This, which was then considered a very hazardous 
measure, it was believed would require the support of all the friends of the 
administration. John Adams, the Vice-President, was considered a very uncer- 
tain man, and the task was committed to me to take care that he should not go 
wrong on this occasion. I accordingly called upon Mr. Adams in the morning 
at an early hour, and after a few incidental remarks, said : 

" Mr. Adams, this French Minister's conduct seems to me to be most objection- 
able." 

IMk. Adams. — " Objectionable ? It is audacious, Sir! " 



; 
* 



10 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Me. Cabot.— "I think if you were President, you would not permit him to per- 
form his office very long ! " 

Mil. Adams. — " Not an liour, Sir ! I would dismiss him immediately." 

Mi:. Cabot. — " I wish you would allow me to say to the President that such are 
your views ! " 

Me. Adams. — " Certainly, Sir ! I will say so to the President myself, when I 
see him." 

The work was done. Before night, it was known that Genet was dismissed, 
and Mr. Adams was gratified to believe his opinion had influenced the course 
of the President. This is the inside view of one of the events of Washington's 
administration. AYhcn Fauchet, Genet's successor, arrived, it was ascertained 
that he came with orders to send the disgraced Minister home, and it was 
reported that measures were in progress to take him by force, put him on board 
a vessel, and send him to Prance. The Minister was informed by our govern- 
ment that this could not be done. It was next suggested that a party should 
be given on board a French war-vessel then in the Delaware river, to which Genet 
should be invited, and that when he was once under the French flag, he should 
be detained and carried ofi". This plan was submitted to our government. 
Hamilton earnestly advised the President that the French Minister should be 
informed "that no such stratagem could be permitted," on the ground that if 
he were taken to France he would be executed, and the President's connivance 
would be sure to be imputed by his enemies to motives of resentment. This 
advice was adopted, and Genet remained in this country. He married a 
daughter of George Clinton, Governor of the State of New York, and left a 
family of children. 

Governor, Clinton and the Federalists. 
I also remember this little personal anecdote of Governor Clinton. The 
Convention called to discuss the question of the adoption of the Federal Con- 
.stitutiou by the State of New York, met at Poughkeepsie in the summer of 
1788. Two thirds of the members were opposed to adoption. Governor Clinton 
was elected to preside. The debates ran very high, and Clinton, unable to 
•contain his impatience under the arguments of the Federalists, rose from his 
.seat, and, leaving the room, walked for some time up and down the piazza. 

General Henry Clinton. 

General Clinton, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in America, 
while New York was in possession of the English, lived at the corner of Broad- 
•way and what is now called Battery-Place. At that time the water of the 
Hudson washed the west end of the yard or garden attached to that house, 
where there was a summer-house in which Clinton was in the habit of taking 
a nap in the afternoon. The famous Light-horse Lee, hearing of this habit, 
formed a plan to cross the Hudson to the foot of the garden at low tide, land, 
;and seize the General while asleep and carry him off prisoner. When all was 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 11 

arranged, Lee informed General Washington of his purpose. Washington 
consulted Hamilton, who promptly advised the General to forbid it • "for " said 
he, " should Clinton be made a prisoner it would be our misfortune, since the 
British Government could not find another commander so incompetent to se-iid 
in his place." 

The following incidents, relating to my father's professional life in New 
York, may be stated here. " On one occasion, when Hamilton went to the poll 
in the Seventh Ward, he was attacked by a well-known rough, named Tunis 
Wortman, who called him a Tory, swore that he ran away from the British 
Army, and endeavored to prevent him from addressing the people as he had in- 
tended. Hamilton told Wortman to call out one of the leaders of his party to 
discuss with him the subject then before the people. Two or three months 
afterwards Tunis was prosecuted for a serious offence, and he came to Hamilton 
to engage him to defend his cause. This Hamilton consented to do, but re- 
fused the fee that was offered ; and as Wortman was taking his leave, my father 
said to him, ' Tunis, why don't you employ B. or M. ? ' ' Oh, Colonel,' said 
he, ' I served in your company during the war, and I know you will do me jus- 
tice in spite of my rudeness.' ' Yes, Tunis,' replied Hamilton, ' I have not 
forgotten you. I remember you as the only man I ever ordered to be punished 
for disobedience.' " 

In the case of the People against Croswell, the editor of a newspaper, who 
was indicted for a libel upon President Jefferson, Ambrose Spencer, Attorney- 
General, was the prosecutor, and Hamilton appeared for the defendant. The 
defence rested upon a question of law. Judge Lord Mansfield had decided 
that the truth couWjiot be given in_eyidence, for according to that greatauthoxi- 
ty, the greater the truth, the greater the libel. Hamilton, when the trial came 
on, proposed to give the truth in evidence. This was resisted, and the judge, 
in obedience to the well-received law of that day, rejected the e.vidence. The 
case was carried up to the Supreme Court upon this decision and argued at 
the bar. Hamilton's definition of a libel was in these words : " A libel is a 
censorious or a ridiculous writing, picture or sign, made with a mischievous or 
malicious intent towards governments, magistrates or individuals." This was ulti- 
mately adopted by the Court, enacted by a statute and introduced into the Con- 
stitution of this State in 1822. In the same argument Hamilton defined the liber- 
ty of the Press to consist "in publishing the truth from good motives and for 
justifiable ends, though it reflect on magistrates, governments or individuals, and 
if so published, the truth may be given in evidence." The Court, consisting or- 
dinarily of five judges, though at that time there were four present, were divid- 
ed in opinion on the question. Judges Lewis and Livingston were of opinion 
that the truth was no justification. Judges Thompson and Kent were of opinion 
that it was when published with good motives and for justifiable ends, and they 
of course sustained Hamiltou's views. 

John Johnston, a merchant of high standing in New York, kept a common 
place book from which I copy the following item : 



12 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON, 

" I was present wlien Hamilton made liis justly celebrated speech in tlie Su- 
preme Court of the State of New York in defence of Croswell, who was tried for 
publishing a libel on Mr. Jefferson, then President of the United States. It was indeed 
a most extraordinary effort of human geniiis. Never, ala^, shall I again be charmed 
by the accents of that tongue, now cold in the grave. Thei-e was not, I do believe, 
a dry eye in court, and yet the subject had nothing of the pathetic in it, nor was 
there the least appearance of jsn attempt to excite the tender feelings of the audience. 
The beautiful and tender manner in which he spoke of the character of General 
"Washington, and the affecting appeal he made to every one present, whether, under 
our present government, the most worthless part of tlie community did not usurp 
the situation of the most deserving and meritorious, produced an effect that literally 
threw the audience into tears." '"^ 

In the great case of Le Gue^, Gouverneur, and Kemble, which was ultimate- 
ly decided in the Court of Errors, so deep was the interest from the array of 
counsel — Hamilton, Burr and others for Le GuejA, Gouverneur Morris and 
others for Gouverneur and Kemble — that the Court permitted the counsel to 
speak again and again, out of the ordinary course. Morris's commanding figure, 
melodious voice and authoritative manner, made a great impression. After 
speaking in praise of what Hamilton had said, he used these words : " Before 
I have done I am confident I shall make my learned friend cry out, ' Help me, 
Cassius (pointing to Burr), or I sink.' " When Hamilton's turn came to reply, 
he treated Morris with great courtesy, reviewed his arguments without mercy — 
exposing all their weakness, and then alluded to the boast of his friend in a 
strain of irony that turned the laughter of the Court and audience against 
him. This so deeply offended Morris that years afterward, at his own house, 
referring to that discussion, he said to me, " I never forgave your father for his 
speech on that occasion." 

On the same day after the court had closed, there was a dinner given to the 
counsel, judges and others, by Stephen Van Rensselaer, of Albany, the Patroon. 
Hamilton went to his father-in-law's. General Schuyler's, to dress for dinner, Mor- 
ris and the rest to the Patroon's. When Hamilton arrived, Van Rensselaer 
met him at the door, and to put him on his guard informed him that Morris was 
in a very bad humor. Hamilton went into the room, approached Morris most 
amiably, and said : " My friend, you will rejoice, I hope, that by Cassius's help 
I meet you here with our friends at dinner ! " Morris was not proof against 
the bonhommie of this attack; he swallowed his resentment for awhile and the 
party passed off pleasantly. Morris was full of resources and remarkable for 
his colloquial powers, and made a much better impression at the dinner-table than 
as an advocate in court. 

This reminds me of what George Cabot told me when I was staying at his 
house in Boston. 

"I never give dinners ; but Morris came to Boston, and having known him well 
in the good old times, I felt it due to him to make up a party fur him. I invited 
Fisher Ames to meet him, with Harrison Gray Otis, and others of that stamp. After 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 13 

the cloth was removed I introduced as a subject of conversation, ' How lono- can 
Great Britain sustain her load of debt?' I briefly expressed my own views : all 
waited to hear Morris, who, with great force and knowledge of the subject, presented 
his. "When he had finished there was a pause ; we drank, and all eyes were turned 
to Ames, who was admitted to be our best talker, xis you know, he was then in 
feeble health, and he began in his low, melodious tone with evident weakness, to ex- 
press his views, which ditfered widely from those of Morris. He was thoroughly 
acquainted with the subject, which, by the way, was very frequently discussed at 
that time ; and talked in his best vein with singular clearness and eloquence. Mor- 
ris was all attention. I watched him closely. The fir»t clear indication on his coun- 
tenance of what was passing in his mir'^was— -' He talks well.' The next — 'He 
talks as well as I do.' And at last, as Ames warmed with his subject, ' He talks 
better than T do." 

Cabot I remember well. He was one of the best talkers of the day, and one 
of the most intelligent, upright, amiable and excellent of men. He was in 
public life during the first two administrations. 

The following is a letter by Hamilton to a young friend, who communi- 
cated it anonymously to the editor of the Evening Post. 

"April 13, 1804. 

" Dear Sie : The Post of to-day brought me a letter from you, and another from 

Mr. . I have no doubt but the latter would serve vou if he could ; but he can- 

not, at this time. 

" On the whole, I would advise you to return to iSTew York, and accept any 
respectable employment in your way, till an opportunity of something better shall 
occur. 'Tis by patience and perseverance that we can expect to vanquish ditticul- 
ties, and better an unpleasant condition. 

"Arraign not the dispensations of Providence ; they must be founded in wisdom 
and goodness ; and when they do not suit us it must be because there is some fault 
in ourselves v/hich deserves chastisement, or because there is a kind intent to cor- 
rect in us some vice or failing of which, perhaps, we may not be conscious ; or be- 
cause the general plan requires that we should suffer partial ill. 

" In this situation, it is our duty to cultivate resignation and even humility, bear- 
ing in mind, in the language of the poet, that it was 'Pride icJdch lost the blest 
abodes.'' 

" With esteem and regard, &c. " 

Alexander Hamilton and John Wells. 

The last was a very distinguished lawyer at the New York bar. Among 
his private papers was recently found a lock of Hamilton's hair. On the 
paper containing it was the following endorsement in the handwriting of John 
Wells. 

"A lock of the hair of that head which, filled with the brightest intellect, en- 
lightened every subject on which it cast its beams. I cherish it with the warmest 
devotion as a relic which calls to mind all that is great and good and amiable in 
the human character. " 



14 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

I have italicised such Yiavts of the following letters, written by my father 
to my aunt Mrs. Church, in London, as refer to his pecuniary condition, to prove 
that the implied imputation of Madison, above stated, was as groundless as it 
was malicious. 

Alexander Hamilton to his Sister, Mrs, Church, in London. 

" Philadelphia, December 8, 1794. 

"You say I am a politician, and good for nothing. "What will von say when 
you learn that after January nest, I shall cease to be a politician at all ? So is the 
fact. I have formally and definitely announced my intention to resign at that period, 
and have ordered a house to be taken for me at New York. 

" My dear Eliza has been lately very ilL Thank God, she is now quite recovered, 
except that she continues somewhat weak. My absence on a certain expedition 
was the cause (with army to suppress the whisky insurrection in Pennsylvania). 
You will see, notwithstanding your disparagement of me, I am still of conserpience 
to her. 

'"Liancourt has arrived, and has delivered yonr letter. 1 pay him the attentions 
due to his misfortunes and his merits. I wisli I was a Croesus ; I might then afford 
solid consolations to these children of adversity, and how delightful it would be to 
do so. Bid now, sympathy, kind words, and occasionally a dinner ^ are all I can con- 
trihute. 

" Don't let Mr. Church be alarmed at my retreat — all is well with the public. 
Our insurrection is most happily terminated. Government has gained by it repu- 
tation and strength, and our finances are in a most flourishing condition. Having 
contributed to ]ilaee those of the Nation on a good footing, I go to talce a little care of 
my own ; tchich need my care not a little. 

" Love to Mr. Church. Betsy will add a line or two. Adieu." 

Same to Same. 

" Albany, March 6, 1795. 
" To indulge in my domestic happiness the more freely, was with me a principal 
motive for relinquishing an office in which 'tis said I have gained some glor\-, and the 
difficulties of which had just been subdued. Eliza and our children are with me 
here at your father's house, who is himself at Xew York attending the Legislature. 
"We remain here till June, when we become stationary at I^ew York, where I resume 
the practice of the law. For, my dear sister, I tell you without regret what I hope 
you anticipate, that I am poorer than wheii I went into office. I allot myself full four 
or six years of more work than will be pleasant, thougli much less than I have had 
for the last five years." 

Hamilton, in a private letter dated June 26, 1792, wrote thus : 

" Tiie Legislature might reasonably restrain its officers from future buying and 
selling of stociv, but could not reasonably prevent them making a disposition of 
property which they had previously acquired according to the laws of their country. 
All my property in tlie funds is about 800 dollars 3 per cents. These at a certain period 
I should have sold had I not been unwilling to give occasion to cavil." * 



* This stock was sold by Mr. Wolcot to pay Hamilton's small debts -when he left Phila- 
delphia. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 15 

The following letter, dated April 21st, 1797, was addressed by Philip Ham- 
ilton to his father Alexander Hamilton at Albany. 

"Dear Papa: I just now received the enclosed letter from grandpapa 
(Schuyler), in answer to a letter I wrote to him, in which he has enclosed to me 
three receipts for shares in the Tontine Tavern, amounting to £100. I have given tlie 
receipts to mamma. 

" I delivered my speech to Dr. Johnson to examine. He has no objection to my 
speaking; but he has blotted out that sentence which appears to be the best and 
most animated in it ; which is, you may recollect it — 

'■'■Americans, you hate fougM the battles of manTcind ; you have enMndled that 
sacred fire of freedom which is noic,'''' &c. Dear papa, will you be so good as to give 
my thanks to grandpapa for the present he made me, but above all for the good 
advice his letter contains — which I am very sensible of its being extremely necessary 
to me to pay particular attention to in order to be a good man. I remain your most 
aifectionate son. 

" P. S. You will oblige me very much by sending back the letter I have enclosed 
to you." 

A letter written by A. Hamilton to a relative in Scotland, in 1799, who bad 
requested to know some particulars of his life, reads thus : 

" I came to this country about tlie age of sixteen, and having always had a 
strong propensity to literary pursuits, by a course of study and laborious exertions I 
was able at the age of nineteen to qualify myself for the degree of Bachelor of Arts 
in the College of New York, and to lay a foundation by preparatory study of the 
future profession of the law. The American Eevolution supervened. My principles 
led me to take part in it. At nineteen I entered into the American army as cap- 
tain of artillery, and shortly after I became, by his invitation, aid-de-camp to General 
Washington ; in which station I served till the commencement of that campaign 
which ended with the siege of Yorktowu, Virginia, and the capture of Lord Corn- 
wallis's army. This campaign I made at the head of a corps oflight-infiintry, with 
which I Avas present at the siege of York, and engaged in some interesting opera- 
tions. At the period of the peace with Great Britain, I found myself a member of 
Congress by appointment of the Legislature of this State. After the peace I settled 
in the City of New York, in the practice of the law, and was in a very lucrative 
course of practice when the derangement of our public afiairs by the feebleness of 
the general confederation drew me again, reluctantly, into public life. I became a 
member of the Convention which framed the present Constitution of the United 
States, and having taken part in this measure I conceived myself to be under an obli- 
gation to lend my aid towards putting the machine in motion. Hence I did not 
hesitate to accept the offer of President Washington to undertake the office of Secre- 
tary of the Treasury. In that office I met with many intrinsic difficulties and 
manv^artificial ones, proceeding from passions not very worthy but common to 
human nature ; and wliich act with peculiar force in republics. The object however 
was etlectual of establishing public credit and introducing order into the finances. 

" Public office in this country bas few attractions. Tlie pecuniary emolument is so- 
inconsiderable as to amount to a sacrifice to any man who can employ his time with 
advantage in any liberal profession. The opportunity of doing good, from the jcal- 



16 REMINISCENCES OE JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

ousy of power, and the spirit of faction, is too small in any station to warrant a 
long continuance of private sacrifices. Tlie enterprises of party Lad so far succeeded 
as materially to weaken the necessary influence and energy of the executive authority, 
and so far diminished the power of doing good in that department, as greatly to take 
away the motives which a virtuous man might have for making such sacrifices. The 
prospect was even bad for gratifying in future the love of fame, if that passion was 
to be the spring of action. The union of these motives with the reflection of 
prudence in relation to a growing family, determined me as soon as my plan had ob- 
tained a certain maturity, to withdraw fx'om office. This I did in the year 1795, by 
resignation, when I resumed the profession of the law (as counsellor) in New York, 
under every advantage I could desire. 

"It is a i^leasing reflection to me that since the commencement of my connexion 
with General Washington, to the present time, I have possessed a flattering share of 
his confidence and friendship. In the year 1780, I married the second daughter of 
General Schuyler, a gentleman of one of the best families in this country, of large 
fortune, and of no less personal and public consequence. It is impossible to be hap- 
pier than I am in a wife, and I have eight children, the eldest a son somewhat past 
seventeen, who all promise well as far as their years permit, and promise me much 
satisfaction. Though T have been too much in public life to be wealthy, my situation 
is extremely comfortable, and leaves me nothing to wish but a continuance of health. 
With this blessing, the profits of my profession and other prospects authorize an 
expectation of such addition to my resources as will render the eve of life easy and 
agreeable, so far as may depend on this consideration." 

The references to houses and lots to be hired or purchased for Mrs. Church, 
in these letters, calls to my recollection the condition of the lower part of Broad- 
way in these days. The west side below Trinity Church was, with one excep- 
tion, built up and occupied by gentlemen of fortune ; the exception was the 
south corner of Morris- street, where there was a small gun-shop. On the east 
side the same private dwellings, with two exceptions, one a shoemaker's, two 
doors north of my father's residence, the other a small wooden house next south 
of Governor Jay's house. This was owned and occupied by Slidell, a German 
candle-maker (the grandfather of the notorious John Slidell). This little man 
was often seen in the afternoon sitting on his wooden stoop, in his apron and 
cap, smoking his pipe, the dipped candles hanging at the window. 

Mr. Jeffersox, ms "Ana" axd his Letters. 

JeiFerson in his writings, Vol. 4, pp. 446, 447, referring to the funding 
system, says : " This game was over, and another was on the carpet at the 
moment of my arrival." (This is not correct.) His arrival at the scat of 
Grovernment was in March, 1790, as he states. Tlie funding Act was not passed 
until August following. It cannot be believed that, during the four months he 
Avas in the Cabinet, he was ignorant of the proposed financial measures ; they 
were, at that time, the most interesting questions presented for consideration. 
" This fiscal manoeuvre is well known by the name of the assumption." * * 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 17 

'^ And the more dclt Hamilton could ralce up, the more |)^M?jfZcr for his merce- 
naries,'''' Concerning the duty of assuming the debts of the States, incurred in the 
prosecution of the war for the common defence, Hamilton said in his report : 

" The general principle of it seems equitable, for it appears difficult to conceive a 
good reason why the expenses for the particular defeuce of a part iu a common war 
should not be a common charge as well as those incurred professedly for the general 
defence. The defeuce of each part is that of the whole, and unless all the expendi- 
tures are brought into a common mass, the tendency must be to add to the calamities 
suffered by being the most exposed to the ravages of war and increase of burthens." 

The debt incurred by the States was, as Hamilton said, '' A part of the 
price paid for Independence." The report proves conclusively that to assume 
these debts by the United States would expose the people of the States to 
lighter burthens than they would be under by the expense of two systems of taxa- 
tion, one by the United States and the other by the States. Perhaps the most 
conclusive answer to all the condemnation of " the assumption " to which its 
author was exposed is to be found in the fact that the continued policy of the 
United States from that time to this (1866), has been to assume and pay the 
debts of the States incurred in the common defence and for the general welfare. 

The charge against Hamilton is, substantially, that he enabled his myrmi- 
dons to amass fortunes by informing them of the measures to be pursued by 
him. Mr. Jefferson has said : " Proof is the duty of the affirmative side. A 
negative cannot be possibly proved." In relation to the charges he has deliber- 
ately made against Hamilton of the most damning character, he has not in a 
single case offered, or attempted to offer, any proof whatever. 

The following negative proof will, by the candid, be considered as conclusive 
against Mr. Jefferson's naked assertion. 

Henry Lee, a gallant soldier of the Revolution, afterwards Governor of Vir- 
ginia, addressed to his friend Hamilton the following letter : 

"EicnMOND, Nov. 16, 1789. 

" My dear Sir : — Your undertaking is truly arduous, but I trust as you progress 
in the work difficulties will vanish. From your situation you must be able to form 
with some certainty an opinion concerning the domestic debt ; will it speedily rise ? 
will the interest accruing command specie, or anything nearly as valuable — what will 
become of the indents already issued ? 

" These queries are asked for my private information. Perhaps they may be im- 
proper. I do not think them so, or I would not propound them. Of this you will de- 
cide, and act accordingly — nothing can induce me to be instrumental in submitting 
my friend to an impropriety. 

" I wrote to General Knox sometime ago, enclosing a letter to St. Clair ; will you, 
before you answer me, know whether my letter was i-eceived. 

" The anti-federal gentlemen in our own assembly do not relish the amendments 
proposed by Congress to the constitution. Yours always and affectionately, 

" Henry Lee. 
"To Col. Alexander Eamilton." 

2 



18 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

To tliis letter Hamilton replied : 

"New Yoek, Dec. 1, 1789. 

" My dear Friend : — I received your letter of the 16tli of ISTovember. I am sure 
yon are sincere wlien you say that you would not subject me to an impropriety, nor 
do I know there would be any ia answering your queries; but you remember the 
saying with regard to Ca?sar's wife. I think the spirit of it applicable to every man 
concerned in the administration of the finances of the country. "With respect to 
the conduct of such men, siiqikion is ever eagle-eyed, and the most innocent things 
may be misinterpreted. Be assured of the atfection and friendship of yours.'" 

A similar application made by Herman Le Roy, a member of the distinguish- 
ed mercantile firm in New York of Le Roy, Bayard & Co., " in order that his 
Dutch friends might speculate," was answered in the same way. 

Hamilton recpiested his father-in-law, General Schuyler, not to permit his 
son to speculate in the public securities lest it should be inferred that their 
speculations were made upon information furnished by Hamilton ; or were made 
in part on Hamilton's account. Schuyler inhibited any speculations ; as Van 
Rensellaer Schuyler, my uncle, told me, complaining at the same time that, but 
for this inhibition, he would have made a large sum of money. 

Col. Piatt, a worthy gentleman, an oihcer in the Revolutionary army, told 
me that lie had applied to his friend Hamilton for information in relation to his 
proposed fiscal system without success. 

Mr. Jefferson proceeds, Vol. 4, p. 449 : 

" The assumption was passed, and twenty millions of stock divided among favor- 
ed States and thrown in as a paiulum to the stock -jobbing herd. This added to the 
number of votaries to the Treasury, and made its chief the master of every vote in 
the Legislature'" * * * " Still, the machine was not complete. The eftectofthe 
funding system and of the assumption w^ould be temporary " * * " and some engine 
of influence more permanent must be contrived while these myrmidons were still 
in place to carry it through without opposition. This engine was the Bank of the 
United States." 

He goes on (p. 450, Vol. 4,) to insist that, through that institution, the members 
of Congress were corrupted and thus devoted to their Chief." 

Mr. Madison, a member of Congress, opposed the Bank as unconstitutional. 
Mr. Jefferson a member of Washington's Cabinet endeavored to induce the 
President to veto the bill, on that ground : afterwards, when Jefferson was 
President, he approved an Act of Congress authorizing a branch of that Bank 
to be established at New Orleans. Mr. Madison, in 1815, in a message to 
Congress, recommended a Bank of the United States, which was chartered in 
1816. 

Jefferson in 181G (Vol, 4, p. 285) said: 

"A third measure should insure resources of money by the suppression of 
all paper circulation during peace, and licensing that of the nation {a paper circulation) 
alone during the war * * * of proper denominations for circulation." 

Mr. Jefferson, in 1813, was earnestly in favor of a funding system identical 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 19 

with that recommended by Hamilton. In a letter to John W. Epes, a mem- A 
ber of the House of Kepresentatives, dated June the 24th, 1812 (Vol. 4, p. 196), 
he writes : — 

" It is a wise rule, and should be fundamental in a government disposed to cherish 
its credit, and, at the same time, to restrain the use of it within the limit of its facul- 
ties, nsver to borrow a dollar without laying a tax on the same instant for paying 
the interest annually and the principal within a given term, and to consider that tax 
as pledged to the creditor on the public faith." 

As we have already seen, Hamilton, in his first report 9th of January, 1790, 
and in his report of January 20th, 1795, expresses the same idea in a better 
manner. 

The Parliament of Great Britain, after the first report by Hamilton, " form- 
ally adopted as a standing rule the principle of incorporating with the creation 
of debt the means of extinguishment." 

In 1813 this principle was violated by Vansittart, Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, and the consequence was, as Palmerston declared in 1865 — referring 
to Gladstone's administration of the finances ; 

" We have succeeded in making, fur the first time, some noteworthy impression - 
on the public debt." 

The Characters of ths Two Gentlemen. 

Jefferson says ("Writings, Vol. 4, p. 451), 

"Hamilton was indeed a singular character, of acute understanding, disinterest-- 
ed, honest and honorable in all private transactions, amiable in society', and duly 
valuing virtue in private life — yet so bewitched and perverted by the British example 
as to be under thorough conviction that corruption was essential to the government 
of a nation." 

This is the testimony of Jefferson — " disinterested, Jwnest and honorahk — ■- 
dull/ valuing virtue in in iv ate life,'''' and yet Jefferson distinctly represents this- 
man as having misrepresented the amount of the debt of the United States in 
order to have more enlarged means of corrupting Congress ; and, further, that 
he afforded his myrmidons such information as would enable them to filch the 
property of others less informed than they. 

Now as to the authority due to Jefferson's statements : — During the discus- 
sion on Foot's Kesolution in the Senate of the United States in 1830, Mr„ . 
Benton being entitled to the floor — Mr. Clayton said, " that he desired the per- 
mission of the Senator from Missouri (Mr. Benton) who was entitled to the 
floor, to call the attention of two of the honorable members of this body, Mr. . 
Smith of Maryland and Mr. Livingston of Louisiana, to a passage in a book 
which had been cited in this debate by the Senator from South Carolina (Mr. . 
Hayne) as authority on another subject. He did not rise for the purpose of ' 
discussing the resolution itself. His attention had been called by a number of" 



20 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

members of this House to a passage in the same book : another j^art of which 
had been referred to by the Senator from South Carolina. That passage charged 
an illustrious statesman, -who formerly occupied the seat of a Senator here, 
and whose memory and fame were dear to himself and to the people he repre- 
sented, with atrocious corruption, of which he was convinced that great and good 
man could never have been guilty; and as the witnesses referred to in the book 
itself were present and ready to give testimony to set the charge at rest, he 
hoped he should be pardoned for referring to the objectionable passage in their 
presence." 

He then read, from the 4th Vol. of Jeiferson's Memoirs, page 515, (the 
same volume which had been brought into the Senate by General Hayne,) the 
following passage : 

" February the 12, 1801. Edward Livingston tells me that Bayard applied to- 
day or hist niglit to General Samuel Smith, and represented to him the expediency 
of his coming over to the States who vote for Burr ; that there was nothing in the 
way of appointment which he might not command ; and particularly mentioned the 
secretarysliip of the navy. Sinitli asked him if he was authorized to make the 
offer. lie said he was authorized. Smith told this to Livingston, and to W. 0. 
Nicholas, who confirms it to me," &c. 

He then called upon the Senators from Maryland and Louisiana, referred 
to in this passage, to disprove the statement here made. 

Mr. Smith of Maryland, rose and said : " That he had read tlie paragraph before 
he came here to-day, and was therefore aware of its import. He had not tlie most 
•distant recollection that Mr. Bayard had ever made such a proposition to him. Mr. 
Bayard, said he, and myself, though politically opposed, were intimate personal 
friends, and he was an honorable man. Of all men, JMr. Bayard would have been 
■the last to make such a proposition to any man ; and I am confident that he had too 
much respect for me, to have made it under any circumstances. He never received 
from any man any such proposition. " 

Mr. Livingston of Louisiana, said: "That as to the precise question which had 
"been put to him by the Senator from Delaware, he must say, that having taxed his 
recollection as far as it could go, on so remote a transaction, he had no remem- 
T^rance of it. " 

Mr. Clayton, said : " llis purpose had been achieved. He thought it his duty to 
vindicate the honor and fame of his predecessors against unjustifiable imputations, 
•no matter to what party they may have belonged. The character of the illustrious 
Bayard would, he trusted, stand forever untarnished by the charge of corruption. " 

As to Jefferson's character for veracity. The conclusive evidence of his 
disregard of truth, afforded by what occurred in the Senate, as above stated, 
induced Col. Thomas Benton to declare in his place in the Senate : 

" He, ( Jefiferson,) was repudiated as a witness by the testimony of two distin- 
guished members of that body. Happily for the honor of the country, and the reputa- 
tion of those men whose superiority in wisdom and virtue caused him to hate and 
•vilify them, he has ceased to be considered as entitled to belief. His assertions 



REMINISCEXCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 21 

even in regard to matters of whicli lie pretends to be cognizant, require other sub- 
sidiary proof to entitle him to consideration. This is, now, the judgment of man- 
kind. " 

The writer was present, having been informed by Mr. Benton of his pur- 
pose, and immediately made a note of what he said. No person in the Senate 
manifested a disposition to question what was said. 

John Johnston, a merchant in New York, of respectability, kept a common- 
place book which has been put into my hands. 

Under date of January 21, 1801, I find the following: 

" General Washington in conversation with General Hamilton to-day said : 'ITr. 
Jefferson was a most profound hypocrite, and less under tlie influence of philosoph- 
ical reveries than is commonly imagined. ' He gave the following statement to 
confirm his opinion : ' When Mr. JeiFerson resigned the office of Secretary of State, 
he and his friends gave out that he was tired of public affairs, and meant to live in 
retirement. He even went so far as to forbid newspapers being brought to his 
house.' (Jefferson's letter confirms this.) 'Soon after this, General Hamilton 
met General Washington, and the conversation turned on Mr. Jefferson's retiring 
from public business, when General Washington expressed his hopes that he would 
meet iu retirement with the happiness he expected, and his wish that he also could 
retire. Oh ! Sir, said Hamilton, I fear Mr. Jefferson only retires at present, to 
come forward at a future time with more certainty and effect. I believe him to be 
a most profound hypocrite, and should be not surprised to see him again a candidate 
for the office of President of the United States. General Washington expressed 
a belief that General Hamilton was mistaken in Mr. Jefferson's character, (for 
whom he had a personal kindness.) Mr. Jefferson remained in retirement a few 
years, and then came forward as a candidate for the Presidency. Gener;il Hamilton 
in conversation with General Washington after this, asked him what lie now 
thought of Mr. Jeffex'son's sincerity, and of his pretended love of retirement ? 
General Washington replied, 'I see, Sir, you knew his character better than I 
did, and I noio believe, with you, that he is a most profound hypocrite. ' " 

Jefferson addressed a letter to Washington, May 23, 1792, ( see appendix 
to 10th Vol., of Writings of Washington, p. 504), in which he made a great 
number of objections to the financial system of Hamilton, misrepresenting it, 
of course, as he afterwards did, in his " Ana, " and letters. 

On the 29th July, following, at Mount Vernon, Washington wrote a letter 
to Hamilton, in which he repeated the objections of Jefferson, and called upon 
Hamilton to reply to them. 

First. — " That the public debt is greater than we can possibly pay before other 
causes of adding new debt to it will occur, and that this has been artificially created 
by adding together the whole amount of the debtor and creditor sides of the ac- 
count, instead of taking only their balances, which could have been paid off in a 
short time." 

This is the precise language df Jefferson's letter to Washington, written, 
at Philadelphia, dated May 23, 1792. And so AVashington goes through that 



22 EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

letter, using its very language, and extending it to twentj-one objections; the 
last being in these \Yords : 

" That the anti-federal champions are now strengthened in argument by the 
fulfillment of their predictions, which has been brought abont by the monarchical 
federalists themselves, who having been for the new government, merely as a step- 
ping-stone to monarchy, have themselves adopted the very constitution of which, 
when advocating its acceptance before the tribunal of the people, they declared it 
insusceptible; whilst the republican federalists who espoused the same govern- 
ment for its intrinsic merits are disarmed of their weapons ; that which they 
deemed as prophecy being now become true history. Who, therefore, can be sure 
that these things may not proselyte tlie small number which was wanting to place 
the majority on the other side. And this, they add, is the event at which they 
tremble. " 

Hamilton to Washington, on the 18th August, 1792, says: 

" I am happy to be able at length to send you answers to the objections communi- 
cated in your letter of the 29th July. They have unavoidably been drawn in haste 
— too much so to do perfect justice to the subject, and have been copied just as they 
flowed from my heart and pen, without revision or correction. 

" You will observe that here and there some severity appears. I have not forti- 
tude enough always to bear with calumnies which necessarily include me as principal 
agent in the measures censured, of the falsehood of which I have the most unquali- 
fied conscienciousness. I trust I shall always be able to bear, as I ought, imputa- 
tions of errors of judgment; but I acknowledge that I cannot be entirely patient 
under charges which impeach the integrity of my public motives and conduct. I 
feel that I merit them in no degree^ and expressions of indignation sometimes escape 
me in spite of every effort to suppress them. I rely on your goodness for the proper 
allowances. With, &c." 

The objections made by Jefferson in his letter to Washington thus presented 
to Hamilton and answered, are substantially the same as those presented in 
Jefferson's " Ana," and particularly that atrocious one of February 4th, 1818 
(Jefferson's Works Vol. 4 pp. 446 to 453). The. paper sent to Washington 
with the above letter, entitled, " Objections and Answers respecting the admini- 
stration of the Government," will be found in the works of Hamilton, 4th Vol. 
pages 248 to 279. 

This answer of Hamilton to the attacks of his enemies ought to be carefully 
read by all men who are anxious to understand the course of measures adopted 
in regard to the fiscal policy of the Government at its outset. That system not 
only established our credit — the character of the government, but, by it paid 
off two great debts — tliat of the Pievolution and that of the war of 1812, and 
it ultimately received the sanction of the very men who opposed and traduced 
it. Sec Gallatin's first report as Secretary of the Treasury. Jcirersons 
approval of that report, and his letter to Epes in 1813, and the following 
statement made by Mr, Gallatin to nic in March, 1829. 

The following is copied from a note of what occurred, made at the time : 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 23 

"During the period I was Secretary of Stcate, March, 1829, the Hon. Albert Gal- 
latin called upon me at the Department in relation to a correspondence wliich had 
then recently passed between me as Secretary and the Hon. Charles Yaughan, 
British Minister, as to the Eastern boundary -line or rather the '•'■Neutral Territory,'''' 
After the letter written by the Secretary had been read, Mr. Gallatin declared that 
it was exactly what it should have been, and the conversation on tbe subject was 
closed. 

"Mr. Gallatin then said to me, 'with your permission, I will relate a circumstance 
that occurred when I was Secretary of the Treasury under Mr. Jefferson, which will 
interest you. You know I succeeded your father as Secretary of the Treasury.' 
'Pardon me, sir, Mr. Wolcott succeeded him.' 

" ' True, "Wolcott was appointed when your father resigned, to carry out his plans 
under Hamilton's directions. Mr. Jeft'erson after my appointment said to me: 
Gallatin your most important duty will be to examine the accounts and all the 
records of your Department in order to discover the blunders and frauds of Hamil- 
ton, and to ascertain what changes may be required in the system. This is a most 
important duty, and will require all your industry and acuteness. To do it 
thoroughly, you may employ whatever extra force you may require.' " 

Mr. Gallatin continued : 

"You understand what was the State of parties at that time, and I must now 
say I went to the work with a very good appetite. The task was performed 
thoroughly — occupying much time. All the accounts and correspondence were 
looked into, and thus I became master of the whole system and all its details. 
When I had finished, I went to Mr. Jefferson and said to him ; ' Mr. President, I have, 
as you directed me to do, made a most thorough examination of the books, accounts 
and correspondence of my Department from its commencement.' The President 
with some eagerness interrupted me, saying: 'Well! Gallatin, What have you 
found ? ' I answered : ' I have found the most perfect system ever formed — any 
change that should be made in it would injure it — Hamilton made no blunders — 
committed no frauds. He did nothing wrong.' I think Mr. Jefferson was dis- 
appointed. It affords me much pleasure to make this commimication to the son of 
that illustrious man." 

I rose, — took Mr. Gallatin's hand, and thanked him most heartilj'. 

This was my first acquaintance with Mr. Gallatin. I afterwards called 
upon him to obtain his opinion, in common with other gentlemen in New York, 
supposed to have financial knowledge, in relation to the proposed removal of the 
deposits by President Jackson. (This was done at the request of Mr. McLane, 
Seci-etary of the Treasury). Mr. Gallatin was opposed to the removal, and 
expressed the most decided opinion in favor of a Bank of the United States as 
a fiscal agent of the Government. 

Mr. Gallatin in his first report as Secretary of the Treasury said : 

" The actual revenues of the Union are sufficient to defray all the expenses civil 
and military of the Government to the extent authorized by existing laws; to meet 
all the engagements of the United States, and to discharge in fifteen years-and-a- 
half the whole of our public debt." 



24 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Tliis report was madeia 1801, and Mr. Jefferson (3d Vol. p. 4.88) addressed 
a letter to Mr. Gallatin in relation to that report, saying: 

'■'■ Iliave read and considered your report on the operatiom of the sinTcing fund., 
and entirely ap2)7'ove it as the Vest ptlan on ichich we can set out.^'' 

I have italicised the above. 

WAsniNGTON's Farewell Address. 

In alluding to this address I do not intend to go at large into the discussion 
of the question of authorship, but to state some facts not heretofore disclosed, 
and to relate my efforts to obtain possession of my father's papers on the subject. 

In the year 1824, Nathaniel Pendleton, Esquire, one of my father's executors, 
stated to me on board the steamboat that the evidence of my father's having 
written the Farewell Address was most conclusive. That he had placed the 
draft in my father's handwriting, with the correspondence between him and 
General Washington, in the hands of Mr. King for safe-keeping where they 
would be found. , He added — you ought to get those papers and you may ask 
for tiicui in my name.* Some time afterwards, in conversation with Mr. King 
on tliis subject (who then thought that at some future day the fact of this having 
been the production of my father might be made known), I told him what Mr. 
Pendleton had stated to me, and he replied, " that my information was correct, 
and tliat the papers were in his possession." 

On Friday, May 20th, 1825, at the earnest solicitation of ray mother, I 
went to Mr. King's house at Jamaica to obtain those papers from Jiim, and 
when alone, I repeated to him what Mr. Pendleton had told me, and his admis- 
sion that be had the papers ; and requested him to place them for safe-keeping 
witli me, at the same time telling him that I did not ask for them to make them 
public, and that I was willing to receive them as he held them. He told me 
that he would not part with them, but that they should remain with him during 
his life, and at his death, should go to his executoi's, (his sons, John and 
Charles.) 

I then said, Will you give your executors any directions in regard to 
them ? He replied No ! they will go to my executors as (or with) my own 
papers." I remonstrated against this course, intimated that we had a right to 
them, and that it was most reasonable that he should give me the charge of 
them if he had confidence in me ; to which he replied that he did not withhold 
them from me from a want of confidence. I then asked him if he would 
permit me to see them, to which he said they should remain for the present as 
they were. I told him mj mother was extremely solicitous about the papers; 
that I did not wish to withdraw them from a want of confidence in him ; and I 
assented to his declaration that it was fortunate they had been separated from 
the other papers at the time that it was done by Mr. Pendleton, but requested 



* I did not sec liiin agaiu. He died, I believe, shortly after the conversation. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. , 25 

him not to decide without further reflection upon the application I had made. 
He said he would reflect upon the subject, but that he did not think he should 
change a determination deliberately formed, adding, " they must remain where 
they are at least for the present." I remained at his house during the night — 
and returned home the nest morning without seeing him again. On the 23d 
of the same month, I sent the following letter to him : 

" New Yoek, May 23, 1825. 

"Deae Sir: Enclosed is the paper you requested me to return to you. I have 
searched in vain throughout my papers for those received from Mr. Cabot. I recol- 
lect having given them to my brother John, who is seeking for them. 

"Since my last interview with you, \U particular object has engrossed much of 
my attention, and I am confirmed in the opinion tliat it is not only reasonable but 
quite proper, that the drr.ft of the farewell address, with the correspondence on that 
subject between my father and General Washington, deposited with you by my 
father's executors, should be returned to the surviving executor before your departure 
for Europe, or, left with me ; and I indulge the expectation tliat upon the further 
reflection you promised to give to this subject, you will agree with me in this opinion. 
If you should not (which I shall never cease to regret), I must request, as a personal 
and very particular favor, that you will permit me to peruse those papers at your 
house. 

" I again assure you that the anxiety about the possession of these papers or my 
desire to see them, is not induced by a wish to make them public. The expediency 
of doing so involves a question of too deep and serious import for me to decide, and 
which it is not necessary to dispose of for some time to come. Should you choose 
to place them with me, I am willing to receive them on the same terms on which 
they were deposited with you. 

" As to your correspondence with my father, do me the favor to put it under 
cover directed to me, and give it to Charles, or James, that I may receive it. 

" "With very great regard, 
' " Your friend and servant." 

Having, on my return from Jamaica, communicated the result of my inter- 
view with Mr. King to my brother John, he called upon Colonel Fish, the surviv- 
ing executor of my father's will, who expressed his surprise at the course 
pursued by Mr. King, and said he would call upon him for the papers. 

On the 25th May, 1825, I addressed the following letter to Mr. King : 

"Deae Sie: My brother John found the papers sent by Mr. Cabot among his. 
As my mother is suffering under a painful anxiety as to your determination on the 
subject of my last letter, permit me to ask you for your answer to my request. 

" "With great regard, 

" Your friend and obedient servant." 

Mr. King, in reply, addressed the following letter to me : 

"Jamaica, Thursday Morning, 2Cth May, 1S25. 
"Deae Sie: Yesterday I received your second letter, having before received one 
on the same subject. =i= * * ^g ^]-^q fidelity of my attachment to the memory of 



26 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

your father lias suffered no abatement, nor my respect for other considerations 
changed, it gives me some concern that you should at the present time press me on 
a subject which has been in concert witli other impartial persons well considered by 
me, and which now I have no opportunity to revise or alter. 

" I ought to be the last to appear liable to just suspicion of a desire to impair the 
admiration of our countrymen for the merits or services of your father. Things will 
remain as they now are, at least for the present, and I cannot take measures to 
change. 

" With mucli esteem and regard, 

" I am, faithfully, your obedient servant." 

To which I replied, as follows : 

" New York, May 28, 1825. 

" Dear Sir : The determination announced by your letter of the 26th inst, and 
the manner of it, with your subsequent declarations in regard to me, have given me 
great, very great, pain. 

"I assure you my api»lic-:ition to you was not dictated by feelings at all incon- 
sistent with the friendly relations which have for a long time existed between i;s ; 
or from the slightest diminution of my confidence in your fidelity to your trust, or 
your regard to my father's fame. But, repeating this declaration, it is due to 
myself frankly to say that, when you told me those papers at your death would go 
to your executors without any particular directions in regard to them, ray anxiety 
to change the custody of them was (without meaning any disrespect towards the 
persons you named for that office), very much increased. 

"Permit me to remind you that you do not notice that part of my letter which 
refers to your correspondence with my father. 

"With great respect, 

"Your obedient servant." 

On the day following, my brother John and I called upon Mr. Fish, showed 
him my letter to Mr. King, and his reply. He expressed a decided opinion 
that Mr. King ought to deliver tlie papers to him, and his willingness to call 
upon him for them ; which he did that day in company with my brother John 
without success. Mr. King declaring, as I understand from my brother, that 
he would not part with the papers, but that they should go to his executors. 

On advising with discreet friends (Mr, Boyd, Mr. Schuyler, my uncle and 
Mr. Samuel Jones), it was decided that the most effectual measures should be 
taken to obtain the papers, so unaccountably withheld ; and to that end a suit 
in chancery was commenced for the recovery of the papers. 

Mr. King appeared by his solicitor — sailed for London as Minister PlenijDO- 
tentiary — remained there about eighteen months, and returned very much 
enfeebled in mind and body. 

On the 17th October, 1826, I received the following letter from Mr. John 
Duer, with a bundle of papers, endorsed in the handwriting of the Hon. Piufus 
King, as follows : " Papers received by Rufus King from Judge Pendleton in 
1810, to be returned." 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 27 

"Dear Sir: A letter from Mr. Jay, to Judge Peters, of Philadelpliia, containing 
a full explanation of the circumstances attending the composition of General Wash- 
ington's farewell address has lately appeared in the public papers. 

" The statement it contains, the trutli of which, it is impossible to doubt, as (it is 
but justice to you to add), has been admitted to me by yourself, renders it proper to 
terminate at once the controversy in relation to certain papers and documents 
entrusted to Mr. King by a deceased executor of your father's estate, and -which your 
mother as residuary legatee has demanded in the suit in chancery now pending. Mr. 
King, in his own opinion, and in that of his counsel, is now exonerated from the trust 
under which those papei's were originally placed in his hands. The reasons which 
led to the creation of this trust, and that have hitherto induced Mr. King to witiihold 
the papers, have ceased to exist. 

" I am therefore instructed to inform you that the papers are now in my possession 
ready to be delivered to yourself on the authority of your mother, or, to the surviv- 
ing executor, as she may determine. 

" I am most respectfully, 

" Yours." 

To this letter I replied as follows : 

"New York, October 17, 1826. 

"Dear Sir: The suit in Cbancery instituted by my mother, to recover the 
papers I this day received from you by Mr. King's directions, is ordered to be dis- 
continued. 

"Tn reply to the only part of your letter of this date, which concerns any other 
person than Mr. King, I have to say it is ' impossible to doubt ' that Mr. Jay has 
made a full and accurate statement of all the facts connected with the subject within 
his knowledge ; but wliether the conclusion intended by that letter to be estab- 
lished is correct or not will be a subject for more enlightened consideration when 
these papers are examined. 

" Respectfully, I remain your obedient servant." 

The seals on the envelope of the bundle of papers received from Mr. Duer 
were broken by me in the presence of my partner, Mr. John A. Duulap, who 
examined the endorsements of the different papers, and made a list of them 
(seventy-five iu number), which list is now before me, with his certificate, as 
follows : 

"I certify, that on this 17th day of October, 1826, I saw James A. Hamilton 
break the seals of the said envelope, and examined the endorsements of the different 
papers therein enclosed, and I numbered the said papers from one to seventy-five, 
and marked them with my initials thus, No. 1, J. A. D., and that the following is a 
list of all tlie papers contained in the said envelope. 

"John a. Dcxlap. 

"New York, October 17, 1826." 

Thus ended a proceeding of some importance, which gave me much pain ; 
because my personal relations with Mr. King were confidential and affectionate. 
Nevertheless, believing, as I did, that he was wrong iu withholding from their 
rightful owner papers which did not belong to him, I was satisfied that in doing 



28 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

SO he was governed by considerations connected with public interest, which 
were highly commendable. 

I recollect, with great interest and pleasure, my intercourse with this illus- 
trious man. He employed me in a business of a very delicate and important 
character, which was conducted so satisfactorily as to receive his earnest com- 
mendation. And as a mark of his confidence in me I state, that he advised 
with me as to a paper he considered due to himself to prepare, connected with 
his conduct in the business referred to ; which paper he committed to me to be 
communicated to a few discreet friends in the city of New York, in order that 
they might do him justice. He also, from time to time, conversed with me 
upon political matters, and read to me some of the memoranda he had made 
in relation to them. 

He informed me that John Q. Adams, the evening of the day he was 
elected President, called at his (Mr. King's) lodgings, and said to him : 

" I consider your influence as having been very po^verful in producing the result 
of the elecciou of to-daj^ and that it is your duty to give me your assistance in my 
administration, and to that end I have come here to request you to accept the place 
of Minister to Europe." 

To which Mr. King replied that he was disposed to do all in his power to 
aid him, but that he could not decide at once to assume the duties of that 
ofl&ce, tliat he would think of it, and give him an answer. The answer was 
that he would accept the mission if he could choose his Secretary. To this the 
President assented, and his son, Mr. John A. King (after Grovernor of this 
State), was appointed. The latter gentleman remained in England after his 
father returned in feeble health, and performed the duties of charge (Vaffaires 
for some time. 

Such of these papers as referred to the Farewell Address were held by me 
with my mother's permission, and ultimately delivered to General Cass, as Sec- 
retary of State, as a part of the " Hamilton Papers " sold by my mother to the 
United States. 

On the Sth of June, 1827, Jared Sparks, the author of "Washington's Life, 
and the editor of his papers, sent a message to me to visit him at the Park 
Place House. I did so. He expressed a wish to see the papers I had relating 
to the Farewell Address. He said among the Washington papers he found a 
short address in Washington's handwriting, which appeared to have been writ- 
ten before, with considerable additions made, probably about the time a note 
Avas written by Hamilton, in which the latter states that Washington had inti- 
mated a wish that Hamilton should examine and retouch a paper Washington 
intended to publish ; stating that he was then at leisure and would do so. In 
a letter to Hamilton Washington had expressed a wish to incorporate in his 
draft a part of an address written prior to his second term, and he refers to 
Madison as knowing that he intended at that time to make such an address. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 29 

Hamilton returned the draft in Washington's handwriting ivith a draft in his 
oivnhand, in ivliich he points out the places in ivhich different parts of Washinritonh 
draft shoidd he introduced.'''' This was accompanied bj a letter, in which Hamil- 
ton says " he does not like the amalgamation," and suggests that he would 
rather make a new paper. Sparks added, that ho found among Washington's 
papers a draft of the address as published, in Hamilton's handwriting, that it 
was a very different thing from the draft made by Washington and first sent to 
Hamilton, and that he was determined to publish the whole truth in regard to 
this paper. 

I proposed to him, stating at the same time that I had not authority from 
my mother to do so, that we should bring all our papers together, and I re- 
quested him to obtain authority from Judge Washington to meet me with the 
papers in his keeping, and that I would obtain power from my mother to brino- 
those that belonged to her. He said that he would show me all the papers 
except those referring to the address, and leave it to me to take copies, without 
requiring authority to do so from Judge Washington ; and that, as to the ex- 
cepted papers, he would next winter obtain authority from Judge Washington 
to enter into the arrangement. This statement is copied from a memorandum 
of our conversation, made by me immediately after we parted, which is en- 
dorsed "June 8, 1827; memorandum of a conversation between Mr. Sparks 
and J. A. Hamilton, on the subject of General Washington and General 
Hamilton." Mr. Sparks having obtained the permission from Judge Washino-- 
ton and I my mother's consent to show one another the respective papers we 
had, I went to Boston with the papers I had received from Mr. King. We 
met at Mr. Sparks' house, and read over the whole according to the date. I 
left mine with him, that he might make a list of them all, which he did and 
returned my papers to me. 

That list is as follows — the letter " S — 1," and " H — 3," on the margin, in- 
dicating the papers in the possession of the respective parties. 

MEMORANDCJI OF PAPERS RELATING TO FAREWELL ADDRESS. 

S — 1. Copy of a letter from "Washington to Madison, May 20, 1792. 
S — 2. Hamilton to Washington, May 10, 1796. 
H— 3. "Washington to Hamilton, May 15, 179G. 
S — 4. A draft in Washington's handwriting. 

H — 5. Abstract of points, to form an address, in Hamilton's handwriting- 
H— G. Endorsed " Original Draft," considerably amended, in Hamilton's hand- 
writing. 
H — 7. Washington to Hamilton, dated May 15, 1796. 
H — 8. Washington to Hamilton, June 26, 1796. 
S — 9. Hamilton to Washington, Jnly 5, 1796. 
S — 10. Hamilton to Washington, July 30, 1796. 
H~ll. Washington to Hamilton, August 10, 1796. 
S— 12. Hamilton to Washington, Augnst 10, 1796. 



30 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

S — 13. Second draft enclosed in above letter. 
II — 14. 'Washington to Hamilton, August 25, 1796. 
H — 15. Washington to Hamilton, Sept. 1, 1796. 
S — 16. Hamilton to AVasliington, S'ept. 4, 1796. 
S — 17. Hamilton to Washington, Sept. 5, 1796. 
H— 18. Washington to Hamilton, Sept. 6, 1796. 
S — ID. Hamilton to Washington, Sept. 8, 1796. 

Two copies were made of the above list. 

After the above list had been made, Mr. Sparks wrote to me the following 

letter : 

" Washington, March 23, 1830. 

" Mt Dear Sik : — I intended to see you when I passed through New York, hut was 
in too much haste. I shall return in a few days, when I shall wish to 
take home with me the file of letters which I lent to you from General 
"Washington's papers. Have you any ohjections to giving me a copy of those 
papers in your possession relating to the Farewell Address? It is my inten- 
tion when I come to that part of the subject to present a brief, but accurate state- 
ment of the whole affair. This I cannot do without having all the papers relating 
to it before me. I do not at present discover any reason why they may not be 
copied for my use. Please to think of it, and let me know when I see you. — Mean- 
time, I am, with nmch esteem, your most obedient servant." 

Before I replied to this note, I consulted the Hon, G-eorge Cabot, of Boston, 
as discreet, intelligent, and upright a gentleman as any other in the countiy, 
on the subject. His reply was : ; 

" When that address was published, it was understood among your father's friends 
that it was written by him. It was, however, considered important that it should 
have the influence of Washington's name and character, and I must advise that until 
it has ceased to do its work, the question of the authorship should not be discussed." 

Under this advice I declined to give the copies, and continued to observe 
the same reserve in regard to these papers that I had, from the day I received 
them, until Mr. Sparks, by the publication (12th Vol. pp. 382 to 394) of the ap- 
pendix to Washington's "Works, had proved : first, that Washington had called 
upon Madison in 1782, to prepare an addi-ess for him ; and afterward upon Ham- 
ilton, to do the same, when I felt at liberty to give publicity to the papers I 
held, and to that end I addressed the following letter to Mr. Sparks : 

"New York, February 29, 1844. 

"Dear Sir : — You once intimated a disposition to publish all the papers connected 
with the Farewell Address. It appears to me that such a publication might be made 
at this time without impropriety ; particularly with the understanding, between us, 
that no note or comment should be made without the approval of both parties. 
What say you ? " 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 31 

To this letter I received the following reply : 

" Cambpjdge, March 6, 1844. 
" Dear Sir : — I remember our conversation respecting the publication of the papers 
relating to the Farewell Address. I have seen no reason to change my opinion that 
it is desirable to have all published together,- as a matter of historical record, and 
perhaps without any comment excepting such remarks as might serve for exjjlana- 
tion ; and these to be mutually approved by the parties concerned. 
, " But the papers are no longer in my possession. 

" As a mere literary performance, though excellent, it is neither extraordinary, 
nor in any degree superior to many others written by each of the parties. It would 
add little to the general reputation of Washington or Hamilton, if one or the other 
should be found to be its sole author. It derives its value and is destined to immor- 
tality chiefly from the circumstance of its containing wise, pure, and noble sentiments 
sanctioned by the name of "Washington." * * * * i ;p^^],g ^way this 
name and this circumstance, and its powerful charm would be broken. It would be 
called able, and good and honorable testimony of the ability and patriotism of the 
writer." 

We have thus Mr. Sparks' estimate of this admirable paper; which by the 
enlightened mind of America is estimated much more highly. In Great 
Britain it was estimated at its intrinsic value when i\.lison in his History [Vol. 
3, p. 99, years 1796-7], wrote thus : 

"He, (Washington,) bequeathed to his countrymen an address on leaving the 
Government, to which there is no composition of uninspired wisdom can bear a 
comparison," 

And when the Annual Register [1796, page 203] said : 

" There is nothing in profane History to which his (Washington's) parting address 
can be compared. In our sacred Scriptures alone we find a parallel in that recapitu- 
lation of divine instruction and command, which the legislator of the Jews wade 
in the hearing of Israel, when they were about to pass the Jordan." 

On the 8th of June, 1827, Mr. Sparks said, as above stated, that among the 
Washington papers, he found a short address in Washington's handwriting. 
* * * ^ Hamilton returned this draft with a draft in his oivii 
handwriting, in w^hich he points out the place in which different parts of Wash- 
ington's draft should be introduced. He added that he also found among 
Washington's papers, a draft of the address as published, in Hamilton's hand- 
writing — that it was a very different thing from the draft made by Washington 
first sent to Hamilton. This was no doubt the paper which Hamilton described 
as the " copy of the original draft considerably amended,^'' which copy he sent to 
Washington in a letter, dated July 30th, 1796, in which letter he says : 

" I have the pleasure to send you a certain draft which I have made as perfect as 
my time and engagement would permit. It has been my object to render this act im- 
portantly and lastingly useful, and avoiding all cause of present exception to embrace 
such reflection and sentiments as will wear well, progress in approbation with time, 
and redound to future reputation. How far I have succeeded you will judge. If 



32 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

you should intend to take the draft now sent, and after perusing, and noting anything 
you wisli changed, send it to me. I will with pleasure, shape it as you desire. This 
may also put it in my power to improve tlie expression, and perhaps, in some in- 
stances condemn." 

On the 10th of August, "Washington wrote thus to Hamilton : 

"The principal design of the letter, is to inform you that your favor of the 30th 
ult. with its enclosure, came safely to hand by the last post, and that the latter shall 
have the most attentive consideration I am able to give it. 

"A cursoi-y reading it has had, and the sentiments therein contained are exceed- 
ingly just and such as ought to be inculcated." 

On the 26th of August, 1796, Washington wrote to Hamilton thus : 

" I have given the jiaper herein enclosed, several serious and attentive readings, 
and prefer it greatly to the other drafts, (his own included), being more copious on 
material points, more dignified on the whole, and with less egotism ; of course less 
exposed to criticism and better calculated to meet the eye of discerning readers, and 
foreigners particularly, whose curiosity I have no doubt will lead them to inspect it 
attentively, and to pronounce their opinions on the performance." 

Could he, or any other person have thus spoken of his own work or a work 
which was not essentially his own ? " Several serious and attentive readings." 
He thus proceeds to comment on his own draft : 

"The draft now sent comprehends the most if not all these matters, is 
better expressed, and I am persuaded goes as far as it ought with respect to any per- 
sonal mention of myself, 

" I should have seen no occasion myself for its undergoing a revision, but as your 
letter of the 30th ult., which accompanied it, intimates a wish to do this, and know- 
ing that it can be more correctly done after a writing has been out of sight for some 
time than while it is in the hands of its author, I send it in conformity thereto. 
***** "If change or alteration takes place in the draft let them be so clearly in- 
terlined, erased, or referred to in the margin, that no mistake may be made in copy- 
ing it for the press. 

"To what editor in fJiis c\tj do you think it had best be sent for publication ? 
"Will it be proper to accompany it with a note to him expressing ******* qj. 
if you think the first not eligible let me ask you to sketch such a note as vou may 
judge applicable to the occasion." 

This letter appeared to afford conclusive evidence that its author was not 
the author of " the first of uninspired writings." 

On the 1st September, Washington wrote to Hamilton : 

"About the middle of last week I wrote to you, and that it might escape the eye 
of the inquisitive, (for some of my letters have lately been pried into), I took the liber- 
ty of putting it under cover to Mr. Jay. 

" Since then revolving over the paper that was enclosed therein on the various 
matters it contained, and on the just expression of the advice or recommendation 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON-. 33 

•which was given in it, I have regretted that another subject (which in my estimation 
is of interesting concern to the well being of the country) was not touched upon 
also. I mean education generally as one of the surest means of enlightening and 
giving just ways of thinking to our citizens ; but particularly the establishment of a 
University." 

Hamilton in reply on 4th September, suggested that 

"The idea of the University is one of those which I think will be most properly 
reserved for your speech at the opening of the session." 

Washington on the 6th September wrote : 

"If you think the idea of a University had better be reserved for a speech at the 
opening of the session, I am content to defer the communication of it until that 
T^Qr\i)(\.^ hwi Qv&x\.\n that case I could prayyou as soon as convenient to make a draft 
for the occasion." 

For a most conclusive examination of the question of the authorship of these 
papers, see "An inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell Address," 
by the Hon. Horace Binney. 

Mr. Sparks says that the papers relating to the Farewell Address had been 
thrown into an old trunk and were not discovered after Washington's de- 
cease until he found them. This is a mistake. The letter of Hamilton to 
Washington, dated July 5, on this subject is quoted by Judge Marshall. 

Hon. Timothy Pickering, in a letter to James A. Hamilton, dated Salem, 
January 16, 1829, referring to the Farewell Address, says : 

" The impression that he (Washington) was the author was first made by his lay- 
ing the address a short time prior to its publication before the heads of the Depart- 
ment. These were Wolcott, McHenry, myself and Charles Lee, the Attorney Gen- 
eral. The draft was in his ovvn handwriting. He desired us to examine it and to 
note on paper any alterations and amendments we should think advisable. We did 
so, but our notes were few [perhaps only two or three] grammatical inaccuracies 
which would not have escaped the notice of your father and Mr. Jay. ***** 
Whether the amendments suggested by the Cabinet were adopted or not, I have not 
the slightest remembrance. That a copy was found in your father's- handwriting 
after his death was a demonstration to me of the material agency he had in the 
framing of the Farewell Address. William Lewis, that eminent lawyer of Phila- 
delphia, and your father's friend, first told of it. * * * " I think I can vouch for the 
fact. I believe it was the first time I conversed with Mr. King after your father's 
death, that he spoke of some of his papers which indicated his important agency in 
the Farewell Address, which the family seemed inclined or might incline to divulge, 
but which appeared to him and Pendleton to be inexpedient, and therefore these 
papers were removed and deposited with Mr. King." 

William Colman to James A. Hamilton. 

" New York, October 21, 1824. 
" Col. Troup told me that on entering your father's oflBce one morning he found 
him earnestly engaged in preparing a composition which he told him was the Fare 
3 



34 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

well Address ; that it was nearly finished ; that he actually read the MS$. or heard 
it read, and that it was the original of what afterward appeared in print under the 
name of " Washington's Farewell Address." 

General W. North, of the Army of the Kevolution, to James A. Hamilton. 

"Xew London, June 3, 1824. 

" Sir : The statement made hy your anonymous correspondent is true. I presume 
the writer of the note resides in the vicinity of Hyde Park. As well as I can recol- 
lect I had no conversation with any other person on hoard of the steamboat. Agree- 
ably to your request I repeat what I probably there said : 'In a conversation with 
General Hamilton, — it is twenty-five years since, — that gentleman told me that he 
wrote the Farewell Address of General Washington.' I remember nothing more of 
what was communicated on that occasion; what is now stated I could not well 
forget. 

"As it may add to the consolation of your respected mother, I think it well to 
say, that it has been and is my full belief, formed as I think on strong reasons, that it 
your father's life had been spared, no great portion of time would have elapsed be- 
fore the Christian religion would have found in him a public professor and a most able 
advocate and defender. 

" I am Sir, your obd't servant." 

John Jay, in bis letter to Judge Peters, referring to the authorship of the 
Farewell Address, says : " Washington would have dishonored himself by get- 
ting Hamilton to write that address. " This might in Judge Jay's opinion 
have been a reason why Washington should not have applied to Madison to 
write a Farewell Address for him, which he certainly did ; but it is a little 
singular that this circumspect gentleman, as he most certainly was, should have 
forgotten that Washington in a letter to Hamilton, dated 8th May, 1796, asks 
Jay to draft a letter, to be addressed by him " as a private person, " to the 
Emperor of Austria, for the liberation of Marquis de la Fayette. Mr. Jay pre- 
pared such a letter, which was signed by George Washington, and sent to the 
Emperor. Was he dishonored in doing this ? 

When the Government was organized under the Constitution two Vir- 
ginians, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Edward Randolph, were members of Wash- 
ington's Cabinet, and Mr. Madison, of Virginia, was the leader in the House 
of Representatives. The latter enjoyed at that time so much of Washing- 
ton's confidence, that when his first term was about to end he asked Madisou 
to prepare for him a farewell address, which was done. 

All these men lost Washington's confidence. When Jefferson resia-ned the 
State Department, Randolph, Attorney-General, was appointed Secretary of 
State. He was dismissed by Washington, under a charge of having asked 
the French ]\Iinister to give him money. (A letter of that import was taken 
by an English cruiser from the vessel which carried that Minister's despatches.) 
See Washington's letter, Randolph's defence, and Jefi"erson's remarks 
upon Randolph's character and conduct. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 35 

In 1802, Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury, made a report to Congress, 
March 1, in which he says : " The accounts of Eandolph have been adjusted, 
and a suit instituted, ever since 1797, for a balance of $51,000, which, not- 
•withstandiug the strenuous efforts of the Comptroller to bring it to an issue, 
has not yet been decided. " 'Ihis fact gives strength to the opinion that Ran- 
dolph's indebtedness to the United States, induced the attempt to obtain 
money from the French Minister. He was a defaulter. 

Jefferson, as appears by the already quoted declaration of Washington, was 
believed by the latter, to " have been a most profound hypocrite. " 

Washington, in a letter to Hamilton, on the subject of his Farewell Ad- 
dress (Works of Hamilton, Vol. 6, p. 1'20, May 16, 179G), says : 

" It will be perceived from hence, that I am attached to the quotation. " (That 
was from the address prepared years before by Madison.) "My reasons for it are, 
that it is not only a fact, that such an address was written, and on the point of 
being published, but Tcnoion also to one or two of those characters who are now 
strongest and foremost in the opposition to the Government, and, consequently, to 
the person administering of it contrary to their views. " 

This, evidently, refers to Madison, as one — he wrote that address. 

Mr. Monroe, another prominent Virginian, although a man of slender 
abilities, so far lost the confidence of Washington, that he was recalled in 
disgrace. See his defence. 

Having evidence, derived from the highest source, of the groundless nature 
of the charges made against Hamilton, by Mr. Jefferson, in his letters and 
'' Ana," and particularly in one of the latter, dated February 4, 1818, I per- 
form a filial duty of the highest obligation, in making the following statement :. 

Jefferson, says, in Vol. 4, page 446 : 

" I retarned from that mission (to France) in December, 1789, and proceeded to 
New Yorli, in March, 1790, to enter on the office of Secretary of State, &c., &c. 
Hamilton's Financial System had then passed. * " 

Jefferson says this system had two objects : 

" First, As a puzzle to exclude popular understanding and inquiry. Second, 
As a machine for the corruption of the Legislature. ***** And with 
grief and shame it must be acknowledged that this machine was not without efiect ; 
that even in this, the birth of our Government, some members were found sordid 
enough to bend their duty to their interest, and to look after personal, rather than 
public good. " He then refers to the funding system, as the means by which "im- 

* Mr. Jefferson's statement that "Hamilton's Financial System was then passed," (that is, 
before 1790), is not true. The Assumption Act, at which Ut. Jefferson assisted (see 
Jefferson's writings, Vol. 4, pp. 448, 449), was passed on the 4th August, 1790. The act 
makmg provision for the debt of the United States, (commonly called the "Funding Act, " 
was passed on the 12th August, 1790. The Act for "the Encouragement and Protection of 
Manufactures, " was passed August 10, 1790, and the Act establishing the Bank of the 
United States, was passed 25th February, 1791. These were the measures proposed, as neces- 
sary to carry out " Hamilton's Financial System. " 



36 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

mense sums were filched from the poor and ignorant, and fortunes accumulated by 
those who had been poor enough before. " He adds, " men tlius enriched by the 
dexterity of a leader, would follow, of course, the chief who was leading them to 
fortune, and became the zealous instruments of his enterprises. " 

Hamilton's Financial System consisted of four principal subjects : First, 
The Funding System. Second, The Assumption of the debt incurred by the 
States, in aid of the Revolution. Third, The Bank of the United States, and 
Fourth, The protection of American Manufactures. 

Hamilton in his first report, dated January 9th, 1790, in obedience to a 
resolution of the House of Representatives of the 20th September, 1789, which 
declared "that an adequate provision for the support of the public credit is a 
matter of high importance to the honor and prosperity of the United States, 
:says : 

"If the maintenance of public credit then be so truly important * * * * by 
'what means is it to be effected ? The ready answer is, by good faith, by a punctual 
'performance of contracts ; while the observance of that good faith which is the basis 

■ of public credit is recommended by the strongest inducements of political expedi- 

■ ency. It is enforced by considerations of still greater authority. There are argu- 
:ments for it which rest on the immutable principles of moral obligation. And in 

proportion as the mind is disposed to contemplate in the order of Providence an 
intimate connection between public virtue and public happiness will be its repug- 
nance to a violation of these principles. This reflection derives additional strength 
•from the nature of the debt of the United States. It was the price of Liberty. The 
■faith of America lias been repeatedly pledged for it, and with solemnities that give 
peculiar force to the obligation. A general =5= * * » belief prevails that the credit 
'Of the United States will quickly be established on the firm foundation of an effectual 
provision for the existing debt. The influence this has had at home is witnessed by 
the rapid increase that has taten place in the market value of the public securities ; 
and the intelligence from abroad announces effects proportionably favorable to our 
public credit and consequence. * * * * Among ourselves the most enlightened 
friends of good government are those whose expectations are highest. To justify 
and preserve their confidence, to promote the respectability of the American name, 
to answer the calls of justice, to restore landlord property to its true value, to furnish 
new resources both to agriculture and commerce, to cement more closely the Union 
'Of the States, to add to their security against foreign attack, to establish public order 
• on the basis of an upright and liberal policy ; these are the great and invaluable ends 
to be secured by a proper and adequate provision at the jjresent period for the sup- 
port of public credit." 

He then proceeds to show that " to this provision we are invited not only 
"by these general considerations but by others of a more particular nature." 
He then details these particular advantages to the public creditor by the 
increased value of his property. It is a well-known fact that in countries in 
•which the national debt is properly funded and an object of established confi- 
dence, it answers most of the purposes of money. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 37 

First, "trade is extended by it because there is a larger capital to carry it 
on. Second, agriculture and manufactures are also promoted by it, for tbe 
like reason that more capital can be commanded to be employed in both. 
Third, the interest of money will be lessened by it, for this is always in a ratio 
to the quantity of money and to the quickness of circulation. * * * But these 
good effects of a public debt can only be looked for when by being well founded 
it has acquired an adequate and stable value, until then it has rather a contrary 
tendency." 

After some profound remarks upon the subject, he says : •' The next inquiry 
which presents itself is what ought to be the nature of such a provision ? " 
After a full and fair discussion as to whether discrimination ou2;ht to be made 
between original holders of the public securities and present possessors by 
purchase, he expresses the opinion which was founded as well upon the soundest 
views of justice as upon the provision in the Constitution of the United States 
" that all debts contracted, and engagements entered into, before the adoption of 
that Constitution shall be as valid against the United States under it as under 
the confederation. No discrimination should be made." He then discusses the 
justice and expediency of assuming the payment of the debts of the States, incurred 
in the prosecution of the War of the Revolution by the United States. He adds : 

" The result of this discussion is this, that there ought to be no discrimination 
between the original holders of the debt and the present possessors by purchase ; that 
it is expedient there should be an assumption of the States' debts by the Union, and 
that the arrears of interest should be provided for on an equal footing with the 
priQcipal." 

The report then proceeds to give in detail the particulars of the principal 
and interest of the foreign and domestic liquidated debt as well as of the 
unliquidated, which last is estimated at §2,000,000; showing that the whole 
amount of the debt of the Revolution exclusive of the debts due by the States 
was $54,124,464Yx,''ij-. This report then gives by schedule the amount of the 
State debts, ascertained by returns pursuant to the order of the House of Rep- 
resentatives. The total was assumed to be $25,000,000, principal and interest. 
He says : 

"Persuaded, as the Secretary is, that the proper funding of the present debt will 
render it a National blessing, yet he is so far from acceding to the position, in the 
latitude in which it is sometimes laid down, that public debts are public blessings, a 
position inviting to prodigality and liable to dangerous abuse, — that he ardently wishes 
to see it incorporated as a fundamental maxim in the system of public credit of the 
United States that the creation of debt should be always accompanied with the 
means of extinguishment. This he regards as the true secret for rendering public 
credit immortal ; and he presumes that it is difficult to conceive a situation in which 
there may not be an adherence to this maxim." 

This funding system so much abused and misrepresented by Mr. Jefferson 
during the time he was a member of General Washington's Cabinet and by his 



38 EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

party afterwards, was sustained by several Acts of Congress passed during the 
first forty years of our government under all the various administrations ; but 
it was expressly approved by Mr. Gallatin in Lis first report as Secretary of the 
Treasury under Mr. Jefi'orson, and approved by Mr. Jefferson himself in a letter 
addressed to Mr. Gallatin. And wc here assert without the fear of contradiction 
that it was the only funding system ever established in this or any other country 
which has been completely successful ; and that its success was due to the fact 
that by Hamilton's System (adopted by Congress) the destination of the rev- 
enues to be applied to the purchase or payment of the debt was unalterably 
fixed, not only by appropriating such revenues permanently, but by conveying 
the funds to Commissioners of the Funding System, and vesting them as property 
in trust for the faithful performance of their duty ; and by making such applica- 
tion of the revenues a part of the contract with the creditors. And here I must 
add that the Act of 25th February, 1862, by which the gold fund pledged and 
set apart for the purchase or payment of the public debt has from that date to 
this been a dead letter, and that Mr. McCulloch, ' the present (18G6) Secretary 
of the Treasury,' has with marvellous disregard of what was due to himself or 
to the character of the country, in his report dated December 4th, 1865, page 
212, suggested to Congress to repeal so much of the Act of February, 1862, as 
pledged one per cent, of the entire debt of the United States in gold derived 
from impost duties to the payment or purchase of the public debt. 

General Alexander Hamilton to William Heth. 

"New York, December 18th, 1798. 

"Dear Sir: Your letter of the 30th July was duly received. It gave me much 
pleasure as a proof of your friendly remembrance, and as an indication that you were 
not disposed to be idle in a crisis of national danger. You are indeed one of those 
men who cannot be permitted to be idle, and you will no doubt be called to take the 
field in some eligible station, if the impending storm shall not subside. 

" You can image the multiplicity and extent of my avocations, and I hope you will 
make a kind allowance for my silence. Attribute it to anything but want of regard 
for you ; on this score depend that I have no retribution to make, being very cordially 
and truly yours, &c. 

" P. S. What do the factions in your State really aim at ? " 

This faction was led by Messrs. Jeff'erson and Madison, of Virginia, and 
Nicholson, of Kentucky. Their course was referred to by Hamilton thus : " The 
late attempt of Virginia and Kentucky to unite the State Legislatures in a direct 
resistance to certain laws of the Union can be considered in no other lijiht than 
as an attempt to change the government." 

The Kesolutions of 1798, passed by Virginia and Kentucky, were sent to 
the legislatures of each State and rejected by all. It conclusively appears by 
a letter addressed by Mr. Jefferson to Wilson C. Nicholson, dated September 
5th, 1799 (Works of Jeff'erson, 3d Vol. p. 428), that he contemplated secession 
as a remedy to be applied by a State in certain cases. 



REMINISCENCES OP JAMES A. HAMILTON. 39 

Calhoun appealed to these resolutions as giving a sanction to nullification in 
1832, and Mr. Madison, at that time in various letters written by him, insisted 
that these resolutions and the party which sustained them, meant nothing more 
than a coercion of opinion and moral influence, whereas the truth is as declared 
by Hamilton, " that the opposition party in Virginia, the headquarters of the 
faction, have followed up their hostile declarations, which are to be found in the 
resolutions of the General Assembly, by an actual preparation of the means of 
supporting them by force ; that they have taken measures to put their militia 
on a more efficient footing, are preparing considerable magazines, and (which is 
an unequivocal proof of how much they are in earnest), have gone so far as to lay 
new taxes on their citizens." See 6th Vol. Hamilton's Works, p. 348. The 
National Intelligencer published the following : 

"Resolution of 1798-9 — State Armory. 

"The fact may have escaped the recollection of many persons now living that 
during the political struggles of 1798-9, the State of Virginia erected an armory at 
Richmond for the manufacture of arms. The operations were carried on for many 
years, and the building is now occupied as a mere arsenal, with a State guard of 
about eighty men attached. In a debate in the House of Representatives in 1817, 
when tlie late Governor Pleasants was a member, Mr. John Randolph distinctly made 
known the objects of the erection of this armory. He said : 

" 'There was no longer any cause for concealing the fact that the Grand Armory at 
Richmond was built to enable the State of Virginia to resist, hy force, the encroach- 
ments of the then Administration upon her indisputable rights — upon the plainest 
and clearest provisions of the Constitution — in case they should persevere in their 
outrageous proceedings.' " 

"Mr. Randolph said in another part of his speech : 

" ' We did not then rely upon the Richmond Armory, not yet in operation, but on 
the United States Armory at Harper's Ferry. At that day when the Constitution 
itself was put at hazard, rather than relinquish the long enjoyed sweets of power ; 
when the sun rose upon this houseballotiug — balloting through the night and through 
successive days for a chief magistrate (he well remembered the scene) — had we not the 
promise of Dark's brigade, and of the arms at Harper's Ferry, which he engaged to 
secure in case of an attempt to set up a pageant under color of law to supersede the 
public will, after defeating the election by the pertinacious abuse under the pretence 
of the exercise of constitutional right to support one of the persons returned by arti- 
fice whom they professed to abhor. General Hamilton had frowned indignantly 
upon this unwoi-thy procedure, for which he had paid the forfeit of his life.' " 



CHAPTER II. 

GRADUATION AND ENTRANCE ON POLITICAL LIFE. 

Graduation at Columbia College — Admission to the Bar — Speech at a Federal Meet- 
ing — A threatened duel — Marriage — Struggle with poverty — The bar of Colum- 
bia county — Bitter hostility of political parties — Unpublished party history — 
A political dinner party — Removal to lHew York — A Master in Chancery — The 
Morris Estate — Louis Philippe in exile — A loan from Gouverneur Morris — DifB- 
culty regarding its repayment. 

In 1804 a student in Columbia College being required to deliver a speech 
at one of the exhibitions, I asked my father to prepare one for me. With his 
usual kindness he complied, and a few days before the fatal duel handed me a 
manuscript with a note in which was written : " My Dear James — I have pre- 
pared for you a Thesis on Discretion. Yoic may need it. God bless you. Your 
affectionate father.^ — A. H." 

The first impression as to the words underscored was, that I might need the 
Thesis as an exercise. Immediate subsequent events of the most painful char- 
acter induced the belief that it was intended as an admonition that I wanted 
that " homchj virtue^'' discretion, of which the thesis treated. How far I have 
profited by the admonition this relation of the errors of my life may prove. 
The reader may perhaps say that in attempting to write these reminiscences I 
liave shown that the admonition was thrown away. 

On graduating I entered the office of Judge Pendleton, where I studied 
law, and was admitted to the bar during the May term of the Supreme Court in 
1809. 

In the month of June, in that year, I went to AYaterford, in the county of 
Saratoga, to ])racticc law and to take care of some real estate belonging to my 
mother in that county. 

My professional business was very limited, and a year was spent in Water- 
ford without any other event worthy of note than the following act of folly, and 
perhaps wickedness, into which I was drawn by the folly of another — a much 
older man than myself. I was induced to make a speech at a Federal meeting 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 41 

at a place called The Borough, in Saratoga County, four or five miles north of 
Waterford. This meeting was followed by a Democratic meeting, when Mr. 
John Cramer, a prominent lawyer, made an address, in which he spoke most 
disparagingly of my speech and of my father. Captain Ten Broeck, who had 
been an officer in the army of '98, as soon as Mr. Cramer concluded, rose and 
denounced him for having made this attack, and called upon him to retract it. 
This was refused, and the gallant captain forthwith challenged him in my name; 
announcing at the same time that if I did not adopt the challenge he would — to 
which Mr. Cramer sneeringly replied — " he won't do it." 

The next morning the Captain called upon me at Waterford, related what 
had passed, and received, as my second, a written challenge, which Mr. Cramer 
did not accept. His refusal resulted, as was usual at that time, in his being 
posted in the newspapers as a coward. I had the gratification, some years after- 
wards, to render Mr./Cramer a personal service of great importance. Early in 
the spring of ISIO^^I removed to the City of Hudson, Columbia County, to 
practice law — thus realizing the proverb of the rolling stone. On the 17th of 
October, of the same year, I was married. Both I and my wife were without 
means — our parents not being in a situation to do much for us. This I have 
always considered the most fortunate event of my life. I realized the embarrass- 
ments of my situation, and met them with the determination to overcome them. 
Nor did my resolution fail of its reward. Our self-denials were great, indeed, 
but our faith in the future was greater. Experience teaches us sad but useful 
lessons. Our poverty was so extreme that during our first year we boarded at 
four dollars per week for each. I now look back upon this event as not only 
the happiest but the most fortunate occurrence of my long and eventful life. 
My poverty, with its burthens and responsibilities, nerved me to exertion, and 
necessity taught me the value of economy and self-denial. 

At the bar of Columbia County, Elisha AVilliams, Thomas P. Grosvenor and 
Jacob R. Van Rensselaer, were the leaders of the Federalists; Martin Van 
Buren, Joseph Monell and William Miller, were the leading Democratic law- 
yers. Elisha Williams was a man handsome in person, of courteous manners, 
and kind and liberal disposition. Beyond his professional knowledge, which was 
such as he gathered in the courts, and in his preparation for the arguments of 
his particular cases (of course superficial), he was wholly unlettered. Williams 
frequently addressed political meetings. His ready wit, vivid imagination, easy, 
pleasant manners, rendered him efi"ective, but when he indulged in references to 
the history of his own and other governments his blunders were quite amusing. 
Thomas P. Grosvenor was a man of talent and education. He spoke well, was 
kind-hearted and well disposed. Indolence kept him needy. 

Jacob R. .Van Rensselaer, a gentleman of moderate abilities and fortune, 
had by his family connections much political influence. Martin Van Buren, 
younger than Williams, and without the same professional advantages, was the 
leader of the Democratic party, and generally their advocate in contested causes. 



42 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

He was a native of the county ; of obscure parentage, he wanted the advantage 
of an early education. When very young he went into the office of an attorney 
to serve seven years, giving his time to the drudgery of a clerk, and was 
admitted to the bar. His professional knowledge was acquired by his practice, 
his attendance in courts, and his examination of the authorities bearinjr on his 
particular cases. His knowledge of books outside of his profession was more 
limited than that of any other public man I ever knew. This remark refers to 
him, at the time I saw most of him, when he was Secretary of State. 

"William W. Van Ness, a judge of the Supreme Court, was ambitious, skillful 
in management. He was the leading spirit of the political clique which guided 
the Federal party in the middle and western districts of New York. By com- 
bination with De Witt Clinton it controlled the whole State. At that time I 
was too young and of too little importance to be admitted into the councils of 
these men ; and yet through my familar association with Mr. Rudolph Bunner, 
who was admitted to them, I became acquainted with their political and other 
purposes. These men denounced the war of 1812, supported De Witt Clinton 
as the Peace party candidate for President ; sympathized with the Hartford 
Convention ; and endeavored to carry the State of New York into that disloyal 
movement. Van Ness gave as a toast at that period — " The Hartford Conven- 
tion." 

The political parties in this county were in such bitter hostility to each 
other, that there was no social intercourse between their leaders. Party spirit 
was carried so far that, as was well understood when Wm. W. Van Ness, the 
Federal judge, held the Circuit, the Republicans to avoid the effect of his par- 
tizanship, would not bring their causes before him if it were possible to avoid it ; 
and on the other hand, when Ambrose Spencer held the Circuit, the Federals 
feared to meet his influence. On one occasion Mr. Van Bureu's industry gave 
him so much the advantage over Williams on the argument at the bar, by su- 
perior preparation, that when Judge Van Ness met Williams he referred to the 
argument of that case, and reproachfully said to his friend : " How could you 
from want of a little industry, allow that little Democrat to get so much the ad- 
vantage of you ? " To which Williams promptly replied — " Oh, Judge, I re- 
lied upon you to supply my deficiencies." 

Another incident will prove the partizan character of a judge of our Su- 
preme Court. There was an ejectment cause between Mr. Penfield and the 
Hallenbecks, which involved the title to a valuable farm South of the city of 
Hudson. ^ The defendants were ignorant men and staunch Democrats. The 
cause had been once tried and the tenants were successful. Van Buren was 
their advocate and Williams opposed. It was again tried and Penfield obtained 
a verdict. A day or two after the court had adjourned, the Hallenbecks came 
to my office and said, " Mr. Hamilton, we lost our case the other day as you 
know, and now we want to employ you as our attorney." I said, " Together 
with Mr. Van Buren ? " They answered emphatically, *' No ! We will have 



EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 43 

nothing further to do with him — we believe he was bought." I sharply replied, 
" You do Mr. Van Buren great injustice ! He managed your case with great 
skill ; and no man could have done better than he did. You lost your cause by 
no fault of his. I certainly will not be employed by you." 

Feeling indignant that such men should assail the character of an upright 
man, I mentioned the conversation to my friend Mr. Bunuer, who repeated 
it to Judge Van Ness. The Judge promptly said to Mr. B.: " Tell Hamilton 
to send for the Hallenbecks, and take up their cause — he can carry it, and that 
little democrat will be destroyed." Bunner said, " Judge, you had better 
give that advice to Hamilton yourself, and you will get your answer — I cer- 
tainly cannot do so." 

The bill to recharter the first Bank of the United States, was defeated in Jan- 
uary, 1811, by the casting vote of George Clinton, Vice President, although it 
was sustained by Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury, by Crawford then in the 
Senate and afterwards Secretary of the Treasury, and by all the influence of the ad- 
ministration, Mr. Madison being President. One of the many evil consequences 
of the winding up of that bank was to induce a vast increase in numbers of State 
banks, particularly in the city of New York ; and above all, the attempt by shame- 
less intrigue, to establish the Bank of America in the city of New York, with 
a capital of six millions. This measure was earnestly supported by the Federal 
faction in the middle district as a party engine. The corrupt means they em- 
ployed to obtain a charter, were so flagrant as to induce Governor Tompkins in 
March, 1812, to prorogue the Legislature for sixty days ; but without effect — 
the corrupt faction prosecuted their means with audacity and success. 

As a part of the unpublished history of the party movements of this time, 
the following statement, derived from the most authentic source, may be made 
public. The Federal party had been denounced as the peace party during a 
flagrant war with Great Britain ; this is correct, only as to the leading men of 
the party, in the middle district of the State, and particularly so as to the fac- 
tion to which I have referred ; but not true as to its most distinguished leaders 
in the State of New York. John Jay and Rufus King stand forth in this con- 
nection with the same history which characterized the earlier periods of their 
lives. In order to induce those gentlemen with Gouverneur Morris, to support 
De Witt Clinton, a negotiation was opened by Mr. Clinton, through his friend 
the distinguished clergyman John Mason. 

The latter communicated to Morris Clinton's wish, to have an interview 
with Morris, Jav, and King, to explain to them his (Clinton's) political prin- 
ciples, and the policy upon which he would administer the government, if 
elected. 

He hoped tliat by the force of his Democratic partizans and the fragments 
of the Federal party, to secure a majority of the electoral votes, and thus defeat 
Mr. Madison, who was candidate of the Republican party. Mr. Mason, knowing 
the predilections of Mr. G. Morris opened the subject to him, and through him 



44 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Mr. Jay and Mr. King were invited to meet Mr. Clinton on a certain day at 
the house of Mr. Morris. They accepted the invitation, but after the meeting 
was arranged an incident occurred so characteristic of Mr. Jay's Huguenot 
prejudice, that it will bear repetition. Mr. Mason suggested to Mr. Morris, that 
as there were to be three Federalists, it would be well that Mr. Clinton should 
be attended by one friend. This suggestion was communicated to the other 
gentlemen and it was proposed that Mr. Mason should be that friend, to which 
Mr. Jay promptly replied, " No Priest, no Priesty 

The day for the dinner arrived. Mr. Jay and Mr. King were there, and, 
with Morris, agreed as to the subjects of conference. It was decided that Mr, 
Morris should be the interlocutor, and that the questions on their part should 
be categorically answered. Mr. Clinton arrived at a late hour : His Honor 
the Mayor of New York having been detained by the trial of a cause in his 
court, a meal was ordered for, and eaten by him, and the conference was held. 
Mr. Clinton among other things declared that the policy of the Federal party, 
which was that adopted by Washington and Adams, was the only course of meas- 
ures which could promote the interest and preserve the honor of the country ; 
and added emphatically, " I well know the views and purpose of the Democratic, 
the Jacobin party, and have no confidence in them. As president I would 
administer the government upon the system of Washington and Hamilton." 
Mr. Jay who was always upright and direct (well knowing that Mr. Clinton 
must depend essentially upon the Democratic party for his success), unable to 
keep silence longer, said : " Mr. Clinton, do your Democratic friends know 
that these are your opinions and purposes ? " The result of this conference 
was, that Messrs. Jay and King determined not to support Mr. Clinton. 

He was not elected, but came very near it. This statement is the substance 
of a memorandum of the meeting made at the time by Kufus King, which he 
read to me in the year 1822 or 1823. 

Mr. King, as a Senator from New York vigorously supported the war, and 
indeed it was said that in order to sustain the finances of the Grovernment, he 
made large advances to the United States from his private means, and induced 
others to do the same. 

When his term expired, Mr. Monroe as President, strongly urged his Dem- 
ocratic friends in the New York leo;islature to re-elect him. 

The faction, however, with money of the Clintonians at the first trial defeated 
him ; he was, however, afterwards elected, and hastened to Washington to op- 
pose the admission of Missouri as a slave State, and took a very earnest 
and honorable part in that most memorable discussion. 

In the spring of 1814 I removed from Hudson to New York. At that 
time an attack on New York city, by the British, was considered imminent ; and 
Governor Tompkins was not only ordering the militia of the State to come to 
the defense, but such was the desperate condition of the exchequer of the 
nation that Tompkins, Hufus King, and many others, and particularly, old 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 45 

Federalists, advanced their private means to defray the expense of that arma- 
ment. 

On the 22d of July, 1814, I addressed to the Governor the following 
letter : 

" Sir : I have several times called upon you, at your office, to pay my respects 
to you, but have found you so much engaged, as to induce me to retire. Allow 
me, Sir, in contemplation of the recent call for militia, to say, that I hold myself 
in readiness to perform the duties of any military station you shall please to assign 
to me. I removed to New York to attend exclusively to my professional duties, 
hut these views must be abandoned should the war continue ; as it will be then my 
duty, as well as the duty of every good citizen, to take part in the burthen of a 
vigorous defence. 

" "With these sentiments, I remain, &c., 

" James A. Hamilton. " 

To this letter the Governor gave a very flattering answer, and requested 
me to call upon him in the evening, which I did; and the next day I was ap- 
pointed a deputy Quartermaster of Col. Varian's Infantry Kegiment, then on 
its way to Brooklyn. I served about a month in that situation, and was ap- 
pointed Brigade Major and Inspector of Gen. Height's Brigade. I continued 
in active service until the peace. The Governor then promised to appoint me 
a Lieut. Col. of one of the regiments to be raised by the State of New York, 
under a bill introduced in the Senate. 

At the close of the war I returned to my profession. In 1813, I had 
been appointed a Master in Chancery; an oihce, as I supposed, of so little 
value, that I did not take up the commission. After the war, Patx-ick Hil- 
dreth, who as a Master in Chancery, had most of the business in New 
York, having been removed, proposed to me to take up my commission, and 
that we should form a partnership. On the 4th of June, 1815, I ad-dressed 
the following letter to Governor Tompkins : 

"Sib : In March 1813, I was appointed a Master in Chancery, which office I did 
not accept, it being of little value in Hudson, and because of some circumstances 
connected with the conduct of my political friends ; you will oblige me by informing 
me if you have received or accepted my resignation of it ; and if you have not, if it 
would be incompatible with strict right, now to exercise its functions in this city, to 
which I have removed. 

"With sentiments, &c., 

" J. A. Hamilton." 

The Governor replied on the 14th of July : 

" Sir : The Governor alone cannot accept resignations of civil officers. The 
Council accepts resignations of that kind, and enters them on its minutes. Upon 
the receipt of your letter of the 4th inst., I caused a search to be made in the ab- 
stract or list of civil appointments, taken from the Council Minutes, and found that 
your name w^as on that list as a Master of Chancery, and of course there can be no 



46 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

impropriety in your qualifying, and exercising the functions of the oflSce. To make 
you perfectly secure I transmit an official certificate of your continuance in ofiice. 

" With high consideration, ""^^ 

"Daniel Tompkins." 

The office -was of great value to me. The principal lawyers of the city, 
Harrison, Kiggs, Boyd, Josiah 0. Hoffman, and Samuel Jones, who were the 
friends or contemporaries of my father, gave me their business. The acknowl- 
edgment of deeds yielded $2,000 a year, and the litigated references gave me 
as much more. With full employment, living with great economy, I was en- 
abled to purchase a small house in Varick-street. 

In the year 1817, I was employed by Mrs. Ann C. Morris, as agent, to 
settle the estate of Gouverneur Morris, who executed his last will on 26th 
day of October, and died the 6th day of November, 1816. 

His wife, Ann C. Morris, was appointed executrix, and Moss Kent, the 
brother of Chancellor Kent, the executor. The will declared that he was to 
be paid for his services $10,000. 

Mr. Kent was a most worthy gentleman, a bachelor, who had enjoyed the 
entire confidence of Mr. Morris, and was well acquainted with his property ; a 
better selection could not have been made. 

Upon examining the estate, I found it involved to over $120,000, (one 
hundred and twenty thousand dollars.) The property was a farm at Morris- 
ania, of about IGOO acres ; large tracts of land in the northern part of the 
State of New York and Pennsylvania ; together with an unsettled account 
with Mr. Le Koy de Chaumont, of many years standing, and involving large 
claims for money. Beside these, there was a hotel in Paris. 

Mr. Kent would not qualify as executor, because (as Mrs. Morris said), 
he believed the estate was hopelessly bankrupt. 

Under these circumstances, Mrs. Morris, who, although very intelligent, 
was incapable of performing the trust, was compelled to call for the services 
of a man of business. 

She consulted her friend. Dr. David Hosach, one of the distinguished 
physicians of the City of New York, who advised her to employ me as agent 
to settle the estate. She consented to do so, and authorized Hosach to enframe 

/ DO 

me as agent of the estate ; which he did. Compensation was to result from 
commissions to be computed upon the payment of certain debts, and other suc- 
cessful services. 

Upon examination, the estate was found to be indebted by notes, discounted 
at bank, to about 120,000, and by a bond on which the principal sum unpaid 
was about $83,000, 

Upon examination, I ascertained that the means of the estate were, a valu- 
able real estate of sixteen hundred acres at Morrisania, within nine miles of 
the City of New York, on which there was a large and valuable dwelling 
house ; a hotel ia Paris, which belonged in part to the testator, and also ex- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 47 

tensive tracts of land in the northern part of New York, for which Mr. Morris 
held the title, but iu which Le Roy de Chaumout and others had an interest • 
the extent of which would depend upon a settlement, involving an extended 
investigation of a long-standing account. The hotel in Paris was incumbered, 
and an advance made by Mr. Morris to the Duke of Orleans, the late king 
of France, as follows : 

When Louis Philippe was in exile, he came to New York. I recollect see- 
ing him at my father's house, in this city. This visit was recollected, and ad- 
verted to by the king, at a private interview which he gave me in 1837. 

Gouverneur Morris, in order to aid him, loaned to him in 1796 the sum of 
$6,000, of course without any security, the payment of which could alone de- 
pend upon the restoration of the Orleans family to their estates in France. After 
the Bourbons were restored Mr. Morris made out his account, computing com- 
pound interest at six per cent, per annum. When this statement was presented 
Louis Philippe, then Duke of Orleans, and in possession of his vast estates, 
paid the sum of 32,000 francs, about $6,400, but did not pay compound in- 
terest, and thus the matter stood when the agent's work began. Measures 
were immediately taken, and with success, to present to Louis Philippe tha 
claim for the balance, computed at compound interest; which was paid in 
1818, amounting to 38,000 francs, altogether about $14,000. 

The first and great object of the agent was to release the estate from the 
bond for $83,000, on which the testator was security. This he accomplished 
by a little good management. 

To pay the debt to the bank, and some other small amounts, an arrange- 
ment was made to borrow from an insurance company in New York, secured 
by a mortgage on Morrisania, an amount sufficient to pay all the debts ; and 
thus the estate was rescued from all its entanglements. 

The accounts between Mr. Morris and Mr. Le Roy de Chaumont, were of 
long-standing, and to understand them so well as to make an equitable division 
of the wild land, was a work of great labor. A settlement satisfactory to 
all parties was made, and in justice to Mr. Le Roy de Chaumont, I must say, 
having the game in his own hands, he behaved in a most upright manner. 



CHAPTEK III. 

EARLY POLITICAL LIFE. 

The American newspaper and the Bank of America — An inquiry into the conduct of 
Mr. Van Ness — Effect of the exposures — The duel between — The forged 
challenge to Aaron Burr — Retirement from office — The De Longireraare and 
Mead claims, &c. — Conversations between the Secretary of State and James A. 

: Hamilton, relative to the Spanish treaty — The Presidental contest of 1824 — A 
visit to New Orleans — General Jackson — Incident of the battle of New Orleans 
— Return home — Encounter with Indians — Correspondence with M. Van Buren 
— Appointed an Aide — Banks and Banking. 

The American newspaper, established in the city of New York by Charles 
King, Johnston Ver Planck and James A. Hamilton as proprietors and editors, 
was published weekly. Their leading motive was to expose the corrupt prac- 
tices of a faction in the State of New York, known as Federalists, whose political 
control though very limited in the eastern was very considerable in the western, 
and absolute in a portion of the middle district of the State. The great power 
of this faction "was shown in manipulating the members of the legislature. 
Their aim as partizans was to elect De "Witt Clinton as the candidate of " the 
peace party," President of the United States, in 1812. Mr. Madison was the 
candidate of the Republican party and elected for his second term. On the 
26th January, 1820, an editorial article was published in this paper, alleging 
that the Hon. William W. Van Ness, a judge of the Supreme Court of the 
State of New York, and as such, a member of the Council of Kevision* together 
with Jacob V\,. Van Rensselaer, a member of the legislature and Elisha Wil- 
liams, had been strenuous advocates for chartering the Bank of America ; and 
that notwithstanding the prorogation of the legislature on the 21st March, 
1812, on the express ground of corrupt practices used to carry through that 
charter. It was, in 1812, obtained with a capital of six millions — the Bank to 
pay a bonus to the State of $600,000. It was further stated in the article in 

* By the Constitution of tlie State of New York, at that time, all acts, passed by the 
Legislature must, before they became laws, be aflBrmed by a majority of the Council of Revi- 
sion. This Council consisted of the Chancellor, the Judges of the Supreme Courts and the 
Governor of the State. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 49 

question that iu 1813, an application had been made to reduce this capital to 
four millions, and that the legislature should relinquish five of the $600,000. 
This act was passed by the legislature and concurred in by the Council of 
Kevision.* For the services of Van Ness, Van Rensselaer and Williams it 
was stipulated by the agents for the charter that the bank of Columbia, in 
Hudson, should have a credit not to exceed $150,000 for fifteen years with the 
Bank of America, on which the Bank of Columbia was to pay Qfc, of which 
amount the Bank of America was to refund to the above-named persons 3^ 
per annum ; and, it was alleged, that when this agreement was submitted to the 
. board of directors of the Bank of America, it was opposed as equally unjust 
and dishonorable, and after some delay a commutation was off"cred and accepted 
on which Williams received $20,000. 

It was further declared that Mr. Williams showed so little disposition to 
divide the money that his coadjutors became alarmed for their shares and 
talked of exposing him ; and it was not until Williams compelled them to 
acquiesce in the admission of a fourth person to an equal division of the spoils, 
upon the express ground of that fourth person's having rendered equal service 
in obtaining the charter, that he would consent to its distribution. Van Ness 
received $5,000, Van Rensselaer $5,000 and Williams retained (as creditor of 
that fourth person) $5,000 and an equal sum as his own share. 

On the 26th January G-eneral Root, in the Assembly, introduced a resolu- 
tion, which was passed, that a committee be appointed to inquire into the 
ofiicial conduct of Mr. William W. Van Ness, whether he " hath so acted in his 
official capacity as to require the interposition of the constitutional power of 
the House." Judge Van Ness appeared and asked to be permitted to be 
present in person and by his counsel, which was granted. His counsel were 
John V. Henry, of Albany, Thomas Addis Emmet, and Samuel Jones. The 
chairman of the committee, McKown, was the law partner of John V. Henry, 
having been educated in his office. Abraham Van Vechteu of Albany, and 
John Duer, appeared on behalf of the House of Assembly. 

In the course of the examination of witnesses it apipeared from Oliver 
Wolcott's testimony that a paper in the handwriting of Van Rensselaer was 
submitted to the board of directors of the Bank of America which was produced 
by Mr. Williams and marked Exhibit E.f In that paper it was stated that 
the Bank of America was to give a credit to the Bank of Columbia of $150,000 
at an interest of Q^ per annum for fifteen years to be paid yearly, and the Bank 
of America did consent and agree to pay to Elisha Williams, Jacob R. Van 
Rensselaer for their own use and benefit the one half part of all such interest 



* It is worthy of notice that the nomination of De Witt Clinton for President, by the 
Legislature of New York, was postponed, as the friends of the Bank would not go into caucus 
until the charter had finally passed. As soon as the charter of the bank had passed, on the 
28th May, 1812, a Committee of the Republicans of tha Legislature assembled and nominated 
De Witt Clinton for President. 

\ That paper is now in the possession of the writer. 

4: 



50 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

as became due and payable, and was actually paid by the Bank of Columbia, 
•which said half of the interest was to be paid annually as received by the Bank 
of America. This paper was endorsed in the handwriting of Wolcott, "Pro- 
posed instrument relative to interest receivable from the Bank of Columbia." 

" This was compromised by a payment in money." 

Governor Wolcott when examined as a witness proved that in May 1813, 
he being president of the Bank of America, at a meeting of the directors this 
paper was exhibited and read, and the proposition excited in his mind emotions 
of aversion and disgust which he freely expressed in the presence of the 
directors. He believed such an agreement would be burthensome to the Bank 
of America in its operation, and disgraceful to them to ratify. He said, he was 
assured of its tendency to injure the reputation of the parties more immediately 
concerned in the transaction. Although it was understood that the proposed 
contents were to be concealed yet he considered it absurd to expect such a 
cecret w-ould be kept inviolate for fifteen years — "for myself," he said, "I 
resolved never to be the agent of giving it efiect.'' Several of the directors 
entertained similar opinions with myself, — of these I distinctly recollect Archi- 
bald Gracie, William Bayard and Stephen Whitney. I believe Preserved 
Fish was of the number. It was referred to me to confer with Mr. Williams. 
At the conference with him as one of the parties, after bearing the objections 
and my opinion as to the nature and tendency of the proposed agreements both 
in respect to the two banks and to the reputation and character of the parties 
interested in the proposed agreement, Mr. Williams was willing to accept a 
sum which according to my belief was §20,000, in lieu of the proposed contract. 
In answer to my observations upon the effect of that contract on the character 
'Of the parties, I recollect Mr. Williams saying that he considered himself as 
transacting business with honorable men who would keep the affair secret. 
Most unquestionably it was stated by Mr. Williams that there had been a 
bargain made between him and the agents of the applicants for the incorpora- 
tion of the Bank of America by which the Bank of America was to pay back 
to him one half of the interest which the Bank of Columbia paid to the Bank 
of America. I understood Mr. Williams as recognizing what is stated in Ex- 
hibit E, as being the terms of the original agreement he made with the agents 
for obtaining the incorporation of the Bank of America. The object of the 
■conference was not to get security but to get rid of a bargain as stated, and 
$20,000 was agreed to be paid by the board to get rid of a bad bargain. This 
was quite inconsistent with the idea of a bond. There was no such condition. 
Elisha Williams, a witness, said he was in Albany during the greater pjrt of 
the winter of 1812, and until the prorogation, and also there during a part of 
■the Spring session, and in the Senate until the question was taken which decided 
the fate of the bill. Williams further testified that he promoted the passing 
of the bill, and having made an agreement with people calling themselves agents 
•for the applicants of the Bank of America relating to a credit to be given to the 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 51 

bank of Columbia by the bank of America wben that bank should be incorpo- 
rated. 

It was proved by Mr. Bunner, a distinguished lawyer, and afterwards a 
member of Congress, that Van Ness, a Judge of the Supreme Court, and mem- 
ber of the Council of Revision, met frequently in Room No. 10, Gregory's 
Hotel, Albany, during the sittings of the legislature, with the agents of the 
applicants for the incorporation of the bank of America, and did undoubtedly 
show zeal in promoting its success, as much as Mr. Williams, Mr. Newbold or 
Ml'. Post — the two last the open and avowed agents. The witness heard a 
conversation as to how such a member of the legislature would vote : " I am 
certain," he said, " I heard Judge Van Ness " ask " if such a person had been 
talked to, or whether such a person had been seen." I understood and have 
ever since, from conversations mentioned in my former examinations, understood 
that Judge Van Ness considered himself as having a right to one-third of the 
120,000. Mr. Bunner stated also that in 1813 (after the session of the 
legislature which took off the bonus of the bank of Ainerica), he had a con- 
versation with Judge Van Ness on that subject, in which he was informed that 
Williams had received the sum of $20,000 from the Bank of America, and that 
after he knew Williams had received the money, he had an interview with him. 
Judge Van Ness expressed some surpi-ise that Williams liad not paid him. He 
asked Mr. Williams whether he had received the money. He said, he had. 
Van Ness then asked him about the disposition of it> Williams, pointing to a 
bureau, said, " the disposal of it will be found there in my will." Mr. Bunner 
said he understood from Judge Van Ness at that tune that a portion of that 
money belonged to him, and he appeared to doubt whether Williams intended 
to give him his portion. 

In the course of a conversation in the same year, Van Ness expressed his 
dissatisfaction that Mr. Grosvenor should be allowed a portion of the money, 
(Mr. Grosvenor was a member of the legislature when the law passed). I under- 
stand, said Mr. Bunner, that Mr. Williams claimed that Mr. Grosvenor had a 
right to a share for the services he had rendered in the incorporation of the 
bank. Van Ness insisted that Grosvenor had no right to any part of the money. 
He did not dispute the ground of Grosvenor's claim as assigned by Mr. Wil- 
liams, but simply said that Mr. Grosvenor had no right to the money. I under- 
stood Judge Van Ness that he expected the money to be divided between him- 
self. Van Rensselaer and Williams. Mr. Bunner in answer to a question said, 
*« Undoubtedly I understood him (Van Ness) to say, that the money was paid 
by the bank for himself, Williams, and Van Rensselaer." Van Ness stated that 
he believed that Williams introduced the name of Grosvenor, in order to appro- 
priate a larger portion to himself. (Grosvenor was indebted to him.) 

Mr. Gardiner swore that Van Ness, before the application was made, men- 
tioned to him that an application was to be made next winter to the legisla- 
ture, for the incorporation of a bank. He proposed to me or inquired of me 



52 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

how I would like to be au agent to assist in obtaining that incorporation. I 
declined having anything to do with it. I mentioned to Van Ness that I ap- 
prehended this application, from his making it to me, was for a Federal Bank 
— that it was a Democratic legislature, and that I apprehended such an incor- 
poration could not be obtained without corrupting some of the Democratic mem- 
bers of the legislature. In proposing the agency, Judge Van Ness said, " I 
could make a good deal by it if I would undertake it." 

Archibald Gracie sworn. — " If Mr. Newbold had explained in my hearing 
the measures he had pursued or the contracts he had made in procuring the in- 
corporation of the Bank of America — I mean to say, if Mr. Newbold had stated 
to us the various contracts he had made for money and credits in procuring 
the charter of the bank, we (Mr. Wolcott and I) should certainly have with- 
drawn from the association." Tlie substance of Exhibit E was stated to the 
board by Mr. Wolcott. The ratification of that contract was objected to by 
me, and, as far as my memory serves, by Mr. Wolcott. I stated at the board that 
I considered the contract as stated in Exhibit E, and made to the board, as dis- 
graceful and dishonorable and every way exceptionable. I would never agree 
to it. 

The course of proceeding by the committee and the counsel of Judge Van 
Ness (four of the most acute lawyers) was to raise technical objections to all 
the evidence which would lead to the proof of the guilt of the party. 

The counsel objected to the examination of G-overuor Wolcott — they ob- 
jected to the production of the books of the bank, and the committee would 
not order the books to be produced, although urged to do so by the counsel for 
the House. 

The defence of the Judge was that Williams paid him $5,000 for becoming 
security for Williams to the Bank of America. Williams stated that the terms 
of the contract with the agents of the applicants for the incorporation of the 
Bank of America were, that the Bank of Columbia should have a credit with 
the Bank of America, for 8150,000 at S^'o for fifteen years; that this contract was 
made in 1812. 

The testimony of Williams, Van Rensselaer and Newbold was in conflict 
in essential points with that of Governor Wolcott, Archibald Gracie, Jonathan 
Burrill, Budolph Bunner, John Duer, and particularly with the recitals in the 
paper marked Exhibit E, which, according to Van Bensselaer's testimony, was 
the work of Williams and himself. 

By the Resolution of the House, this committee was appointed to inquire into 
the official conduct of Judge Van Ness, and to report their opinion whether he 
had so acted in his official capacity as to require the interposition of the Con- 
stitutional power of the House. This inquiry was surely intended to be con- 
ducted as the proceedings are before Grand Juries ; whereas it was made a reg- 
ular trial as it would have been if there had been an impeachment. The de- 
cision of the committee was contained in a report dated April 5th, 1820. Af- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 53 

ter stating that they had examined a great number of witnesses, they say : 
" From this mass of evidence thus deliberately taken and maturely considered 
your committee are of opinion that there is nothing in the official conduct of 
the Hon. William W. Van Ness that requires the interposition of the Consti- 
tutional power of the House." 

I was removed from the office of Master in Chancery by the Governor, De 
Witt Clinton, without any alleged cause ; but evidently because I had made a 
charge against Judge Van Ness, which although clearly proved by the Judge's 
own statements, was not sustained by the Committee. Van Ness commenced a 
suit against the Editors of the American to recover damages for a libel, founded 
upon the publication in the American. The defendants pleaded specially affirm- 
ing the truth of what they had charged. The plaintiff instead of joining issue 
demurred to the pleas on the ground of irregularity. The question upon the 
demurrer was argued before the Supreme Court ; Emmet, Wells, and 
Jones for the plaintiff. James A. Hamilton, as counsel for the defendants, 
averred that he had drawn the pleas in order to present, as the issue to be tried 
by the jury, the fact that the plaintiff had been guilty of corruption in his 
official capacity, to wit : in receiving money from the Bank of America for 
services rendered as a member of the Court of Revision, and otherwise in ob- 
taining an act of incorporation and a subsequent modification of that act ad- 
vantageous to the Bank. He insisted emphatically, that the character of the 
plaintiff had been impeached in a manner which not only brought him into dis- 
grace, but tended to dlso-race the Court of which he is a member, and the 
State of New York. He declared that he did not intend to argue the technical 
questions raised by the demurrer. He and his associates were not insensible 
to the grave character of the charges, or the responsibility they had assumed 
in making them. In assuming that responsibility they were not influenced by 
any feelings of personal unkindness toward the plaintiff; but they verily be- 
lieved he was guilty of the charge in its broadest sense, and that he and they 
had performed a high duty to the State in bringing him to justice. As to the 
pleas and the demurrer the court will decide according to law: All the de- 
fendants asked the court to do, was to make such a decision as would enable 
them to present in any further pleading an issue distinctly raising the question 
of the guilt or innocence of the plaintiff, who he insisted, instead of endeavour- 
ing to shrink from that issue by technical objections, should, if innocent, court 
a trial upon that issue ; and thus, by a verdict of his peers, the dishonor with 
^hich he was now covered would be wiped out. The defendants were willing 
to meet such an issue and to go before a jury upon the testimony taken before the 
Committee of the House of Assembly. They were not indifferent to thcrcsponsibil- 
ity of their position, they had deliberately charged a member of this Court with 
corrupt practices in his official duties, and they were ready to meet the pecuniary 
damages and all other consequences. And we now call upon the learned gentle- 
men who appear for the plaintiff to unite with us in framing such pleas as will 



54 EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

present a clear issue as to the guilt or innocence of their client ; and to take such 
a courseas will lead to a j;ro«i!^>^ /m/. With great respect to those most emi- 
nent advocates we insist that if they shall be unwilling to accept this offer, it will 
manifest a want of confidence in the innocence of their client. 

It is believed no decision was made by the Court; certainly very soon 
afterward the cause was discontinued by the plaintiff. 

The effect of the exposure of this corrupt faction upon the public mind was 
most emphatic as it respected the accused. A convention was demanded by the 
popular voice. The Constitution was amended so as to remove the judges of 
the Supreme Court ; and upon its organization Judge Van Ness was left to pass 
the residue of a misspent life in solitude, a victim to remorse. Williams and 
Yan Rensselaer with their adherents were never heard of again. 

As a Master in Chancery, I had a most extensive and profitable, though 
arduous business. In the case of references involving the investigation of liti- 
gated accounts, such as the settlement of the accounts of executors, trustees, 
and others, I made an effort to introduce a course of practice which would pre- 
sent distinctly the points at issue between the parties, by requiring the com- 
plainant to file a charge, and defendant a dischai-ge, and thus present the items 
of the accounts fully and distinctly to the master, and through his report to 
the Court. 

On the day of , 182-, I made a sale for which I received on 

that day a check for $5,200. I went to the Bank of America, received 
the amount, and from thence to the Bank of New York, where I then and 
now keep my account, to deposit tlie money. On handing my bank book 
with the notes to the receiving teller it was found I was $1,000 short. I 
returned directly to the Bank of America, stated the circumstances, and asked 
the cashier to ascertain whether I had been paid the full amount of the check 
by an examination of the teller's cash. This was done, and it appeared I had 
received the full amount. I advertised the,los3 in the JEveninj Post the day it 
occurred, and offered a reward to the person who had found and would return 
the lost $1,000 note. Several years after, a director of the Bank of America 
called and informed me that a suit by the bank against a man who bad picked 
up a note of $1,000 on the floor near the counter would be tried the next week 
and requested me not to be in the court, or in the city, on the ground that if it 
should bo proved that I had lost a 81,000 note at that time, the bank might 
not recover — there had been one trial without a verdict — the suit had been 
pending several years. He urged that if it should appear that it was my note 
that had been taken from the floor near the desk, I could not recover, because 
the statute of limitation would be a bar to a suit by me. At the same time 
he engaged that if the testimony showed that the note was mine, the bank 
would pay the amount received to me, deducting charges. I assented to the 
arrangement, taking care to send my partner, Mr. Dunlap, an acute lawyer, to 
note down all the testimony. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 55 

It appeared the defendant had told his partner that he had picked up a 
$1,000 note on a particular day, on the floor of the Bank of America, near the 
teller's desk. They agreed that the note should be put away and not used 
for some time ; which being done, an entry was made to that effect on that day. 
The partners afterward quarrelled about their affairs, and he who did not find 
the note informed the bank of the circumstance. The day the note was found 
agreed with the day of my advertisement and of my short deposit. I having 
made my account of the sales good by adding 61,000 of my own funds, was thus 
a loser to that amount. 

The Bank got a verdict for $1,000 interest and costs, which after some 
months' delay was paid. The examination of the evidence by Mr. Dunlap and 
reference to the advertisement and bank book satisfied us both that the note 
picked up from the floor was dropped by me, and therefore belonged to me. I 
said nothing to the bank on the subject. Some months afterwards, the same 
director called upon me on this subject. I pointed out to him the concurrent 
circumstances, and insisted that as the teller's account on the day of my loss 
showed such a note had been paid out, and that I had lost a note paid to me on 
that day, the conclusion was very strong that I had dropped the note which 
the defendant in the suit had found on the floor. The gentleman left me with- 
out assenting to or denying the force of what I had urged, but a few days after 
offered to pay me $500, which I accepted, having no remedy whatever against 
the bank. The offer necessarily implied that the note belonged to me, and if I 
was entitled to anything I was certainly entitled to the whole amount of princi- 
pal and interest, deducting charges paid by the bank. This conduct on the 
part of the bank confirmed the expression that " Corporations have no 
souls." 

Another strange event occurred while I was Master in Chancery and about 
the time the charges was made in the American newspaper against Van Ness 
and others. 

Sitting at my table, having just finished a report and signed it " James A. 
Hamilton, Master in Chancery," Colonel Troup, the early friend of my father, 
came into my office and taking out of his pocket book a paper in the form of a 
note, handed it to me without saying a word. I read it twice, and returned it 
to him together with the paper I had just written and signed. He compared 
the writing of the two papers and said, " I am satisfied it is a forgery." Ac- 
cording to Parton's life of Aaron Burr (page 616) the paper was in these 
words : 

" Aaron Bure — Sir: Please to meet me with the weapon you choose, on tlie 15th 

May, where you murdered my father, at 10 o'clock, with your second. 

(Signed) "James A. IIamilton." 

"May 8th, 1819. 

I was very much excited and angered that Burr should dare to make any 
communication to me ; and that Troup should, as his friend, have been the 



5G REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

medium, and under the excitement I very foolishly replied, " Sir I am not satis- 
fied — the note is, as you say, a forgery, but if you come here as the friend of 
Aaron Burr to accept the challenge if sent by me, I adopt it." Troup replied, 
" Such was not my purpose. I did not come here believing you wrote the 
note. I will now return it to Mr. Burr." He then took his leave with evident 
embarrassment. From the character of the writing, I believed it was the work 
of a weak and wicked man who well knew my hand-writing and was devoted to 
the corrupt faction, then the subject of attack in the newspaper, the Ameri- 
can, of which I was an editor and in part a proprietor, and that it was done in 
the hope that I might be disgraced or destroyed. I related the circumstance 
to three discreet friends who agreed with me and thought it best at present not 
to say anything more about it, under the expectation that its author would re- 
port ''that Hamilton had challenged Aaron Burr," and that as this report might 
be traced, the author of the base fraud would be discovered. 

Parton's statement that Burr wrote a reply in these words : — " Boy I never 
injured you, nor wished to injure your father — A, Burr," is a pure invention. 
How did Parton learn that such a reply was written? He says on reflection 
however, " he thought it best not to notice the communication, and tore up his 
reply." If the reply was torn up at the time, as is implied by what be says, 
bow did Parton obtain a copy of it? That Burr did not think it best to notice 
the communication is proved not to bo true, by the fact that he sent Troup with 
the note to me, as I have before stated. He alleges that Bum* addressed me as 
a hoi/. I was then over thirty years of age. 

As to the duel with my father. Burr was defeated at the election in the 
House of llepresentatives by Hamilton through his influence with the Federal- 
ists, many of whom wished to elect Burr in order to defeat Jefi"erson. Among 
other letters written on the occasion by Hamilton, we quote from one to 
Gouverneur Morris, dated 26th December, 1800 : 

1st. "That the Convention with France ought to be ratified as the least of two 
'evils. 

2d. "That on the same ground, Jefferson ouglit to be preferred to Burr — I trust 
that the Federalists will not be so mad as to vote for the latter. I speak with an 
intimate and thorough knowledge of character. His elevation can only promote the 
purposes of the desperate and profligate. If there is a man in the world T ought 
to hate, it is Jefferson. With Burr, I have always been personally well, but the 
public good, must be paramount to every private consideration." 

The public good was always not only his rule of action, but his governing 
principle. 

Again, Burr was a candidate for Governor of New York — Morgan Lewis 
was also a candidate. Hamilton's influence with the Federal party, decided 
the election in favor of the latter. Thus were Burr's hopes of political success 
again frustrated by Hamilton's influence. He could have no prospect of success 
with the anti- Federal party of which he was a member, and he could not carry 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 57 

a sufficient number of the disorganized because defeated, Federal part}-, so long 
as Hamilton lived. 

Burr consequently, under color of the duel, sought to and did assassinate 
Hamilton, The latter in his last moments, referring to the manner of his 
death, said : 

"Duelling was always against my principles. I used every expedient to avoid 
the interview, but I have found for some time past that my life must be exposed to 
that man. I went to the field determined not to take his life." 

Deprived of office, I earnestly devoted my time to ray profession, and with 
some success. John Rodman, District Attorney of New York, being obliged 
by feeble health to pass the winter in the South, employed me to perform the 
duties of his office during his absence. The compensation for these services, 
both arduous and painful, was |50. The great advantage to me was that it 
habituated me to the trial of causes — made me acquainted with criminal law, 
and led to other business which was much more profitable. During this time 
I was employed by an extensive mercantile house in New York to recover a 
claim arising out of a contract with the Spanish Qovernment, and to that end, on 
the 20th of March, 1817, I addressed a letter to the Hon. John Q. Adams, 
Secretary of State, who was negotiating a treaty with that government, giving 
him a brief statement of the claim, and asking that my clients, who were Amer- 
ican citizens, should be protected by their government. To this the Secretary 
replied, that should a treaty be made this claim and others like it would be 
provided for. Thus this matter rested until the Florida Treaty was ratified. 
My clients then requested me to prosecute the claim before the Commissioners, 
and agreed to pay my traveling expenses between Washington and New York 
and in Washington, and to give me, if necessary, a small commission upon the 
amount awarded. The act of Congress passed to carry out the Treaty, appro- 
priated five millions of dollars to pay the claims. Judge White, of Tennessee, 
Littleton W. Tazewell, of Virginia, and William King, former Grovernor of 
Maine, were appointed commissioners. Each claimant was requested by the 
board to present a memorial, giving a brief statement of the grounds of his 
claim, within a given period. 

When this was done, the commissioners examined the several memorials, 
and decided whether a case was presented for further proceedings. The De 
Longuemare claim, of which I had charge, being founded upon a cojitrad., was, 
after much deliberation, rejected, on the ground that contract claims did not 
come within the term and intent of the treaty. This decision was gratifying 
to the great majority of the claimants, because it excluded a large amount of 
claims, and thus the dividends of those which were admitted would be in- 
creased. The celebrated Mr. Pinkney, of Maryland, said to me: "I could 
demonstrate that contract claims were embraced by the treaty ; but you know iu 
these cases we are all Ishmaelites — every man's hand is against his neighbor." 



58 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

The Meade claim, being for a very large amount, was, with many others of 
the same character, likewise rejected. I returned to my clients in New York; 
explained to them the grounds of the decision, and expressed my determination 
to carry out a plan I had formed, which I believed would induce a reversal of 
that decision. I explained my purpose to Mr. De Longuemare in confidence ; 
but without inspiring him with the hope I indulged. He was not disposed to 
incur the additional expense of my going to "Washington. I was informed that 
a claim had been allowed in the loss of a ship and her cargo, in which the firm 
of D. & J. had an interest, but to what amount I did not know. I informed 
Mr. De Longuemare of this claim, and proposed to him to prosecute both 
claims. He knew nothing about the last claim ; had no confidence in it, and 
was distressed that he should lose what was equivalent to a fortune to him. 
He, however, said to me : " I will make a new bargain with you : I will incur 
no further expense; but if you choose to go on with the work, I will agree to 
give you the amount you may receive under the last claim, provided you re- 
cover the former one ; if not, I am to have the amount of the last." This I 
agreed to, and I received a power of attorney, authorizing me to present a 
memorial for the last claim in my own name as the attorney for those whom it 
might concern. I returned to Washington, prepared a memorial in relation to 
the last claim — the memorial and proof in regard to the ship and cargo afford- 
ing me the materials, and presented it, to await its turn to be considered. I 
then visited Mr. Adams ; talked over with him the matter in relation to the 
rejected claim, referred to his answer to my letter, calling his attention to the 
claim before the treaty was formed, in which he said he would protect the 
claim if a treaty was made. He insisted that contract claims, as well as those 
arising from torts, were embraced by the terms of the treaty, and were dis- 
tinctly understood by the negotiators to be covered by the treaty. • He refer- 
i-ed to his protocols and various circumstances to prove that this was so ; and 
that the decision of the commissioners was erroneous. I proposed to address 
a letter to him, calling his attention to the case, and to the decision of the 
commissioners, and asking him to give me his opinion upon the subject in 
writing, to which he assented. I then went to see Mr. Hyde De Neuville, 
the French Minister, who had been an intermediary between the negotiators, 
Mr. Adams and Don Onis, the Spanish Minister. De Neuville gave me a cer- 
tificate that the contracting parties intended to include the claims of our citi- 
zens of all kinds whatever arising from contracts for torts, and he obtained for 
me a letter from Don Onis to the same effect. 

I prepared my letter to Mr. Adams with great care, and put it into his 
hands. He told me he would give me an answer as soon as possible. I re- 
turned to New York ; and after waiting several days for the answer, returned 
to Washington. At this period the journey to Washington was made by stage. 
During my repeated journeys on this business I passed over the road at least 
twenty times, and on one occasion was ten hours in going between Baltimore 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 59 

and Washington in a stage-coach. On the 4th of March, 1822, I went early 
to the department, found Mr. Adams there. As soon as I entered, he took 
a letter from his table, delivered it to me, saying, " I was about to mail it to 
you. I regret to say, the letter will disappoint you." I read it. The Presi- 
dent had directed him not to give any opinion as to claims — either to claim- 
ants or their agents, and only to the commissioners when they requested him 
to do so. I asked permission to call upon him again whenever he had time to 
receive me. He said, " To-morrow at 9 o'clock at my house." 

I went there, and said frankly to Mr. Adams that under the decision of Mr. 
Monroe, the President, my clients by a mere matter of etiquette and official 
form were to be deprived of a large amount of money, and I of all compensation 
for my long and arduous services ; (I had been at Washington about two years 
on this business.) Mr. Adams said : " Yes, I regret that it is so." I then 
said : " You have again and again, in conversation with me, asserted that these 
claims are covered by the treaty; you have referred to your papers to cor- 
roborate that opinion, and I have your engagement that this claim should be 
provided for whenever a treaty should be made, and the assurance in writing of 
Don Onis and Mr. De Neuville to the same effect. Ihme always and do still 
consider these conversations with you as confidential. I have thei'efore felt bound 
not to make use of what you have told me without your consent. These con- 
versations were held with me before the President's interdict. Now I ask your 
permission to make use of those conversations; and to communicate in writing 
to the commissioners what you have stated to me on this subject lefore the m- 
terdict of the President, together with the declaration of Don Onis and the 
French Minister. I can thus attain without a violation on your part of the 
directions of the President, the object I have in view. Mr. Adams rose from 
bis chair, put his arm on the mantle, stood so for a few moments in deep medi- 
tation, and then replied with emphasis : "You have properly considered my 
conversations with you as confidential. You are now at liberty to use, as you 
please, all I have said to you heretofore on the subject; but you must first 
submit to me what you write, that I may be assured that my opinions and 
statements are correctly set forth, 

I thanked him cordially, and took my leave, and immediately wrote down 
Mr. Adams' conversations with me precisely as I recollected them, and after 
making a fair copy enclosed that in a note addressed to him, and delivered it 
to him at the Department. The following is a copy of that paper : 

COXVEIISATIONS BETWEEN TlIE SECRETARY OF StATE AND JaMES A. HAMILTON 

IN Relation to the 5th Section of the 9tu Article of the Treaty 
WITH Spain. 

Mr. Hamilton requested to be informed by Mr. Adams whether the parties 
to the Treaty, and particularly the Government of the United States, did or 



CO REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

not intend to embrace claims arising out of contracts within the 5th renuncia- 
tion of the 9th article of the Treaty with Spain. Mr. Adams replied substan- 
tially as follows : 

" During the negotiation, no distinction was ever made by Mr. Onis or myself, be- 
tween claims arising out of contracts or from torts, or any others which might 
partake of the character of botli. It unquestionably was the intention of both the 
parties to the treaty to provide for all claims of citizens of the United States upon 
the Spa,iiish Government, of which statements had been made to this Government; 
whether arising out of contracts or torts ; and the 5th renunciation, at the request 
of the Spanish Minister was acceded to l)y our Government, in order to include all 
claims as to whieli the aid of the Government had been called for. The course of the 
negoti.'itlon on the suhject was this: 

" The 5th section of the 9th article, nearly in its present form, was a part of tlie 
project sent to me by Mr. Onis, It was considered by our Government inadmissi- 
hle, because it would include claims by contract as weU as others, and it therefore did 
not form a counter project sent by me to Mr. Onis. 

"Mr. Onis afterwards requested that section to be restored, to wliich the Presi- 
dent and his Cabinet, or such of the gentlemen composing it as were [jresent at tl;e 
consultation, acceded, and it was restored March 5, 1822, 

(Signed) " James A. IIamilton." 

This statement I handed to Mr. Adams, and when he had looked it over, 
he desired m.e to call at his house in the afternoon for the paper. I did so, 
and found he had changed some parts of my paper making it more dcfi!?ite, and 
presenting the arguments in favor of his opinion in stronger language, with the 
addition of some important facts. I took this paper, copied it, and went with 
both to Judge White. He read the original with Mr. Adams' corrections, and 
T read my copy. I then told him it was my intention to send the copy I had 
made, together with the papers I had received from Don Onis and De Neu- 
ville, to the Board ; and I asked him to say that he had seen the original with 
Mr. Adams' corrections, thus proving that they were hi,s opinions in his own 
language. This was done, and the commissioners reversed their previous 
decision. Tazewell was vexed, for he had induced the former decision by his 
refinements. He abused Mr. Adams, and insisted that I had " bamboozled 
him." My memorial was received; the proofs were certain, and a very large 
sum was awarded to my clients, which I afterwards received at the Treasury, and 
paid over to M. De Longuemare and to Mistress Jewell their respective shares. 
In the meantime the other claim was allowed, and about $20,000 was awarded 
to me, wliich I also received as my own, less $2,000, which I paid to the person 
who called my attention to it, and aided me in obtaining the facts and the proofs. 

I was employed to prosecute the claim presented by Mr. Bunner, the ad- 
ministrator of the estate of John B. Church, who married my mother's eldest 
sister. In this ease the cjuestiou of citizenship was raised under the following 
statement of facts. This gentleman came from England during the Revolu- 
tionary war. He was a clever, enterprising, industrious man, and probably 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 61 

from Lis previous employment in the business of bis uncle, wbo was a banker in 
London, was an expert accountant. He was then known as Jolm Carter^ and 
by that nume employed by Congress to settle the accounts of the Northern 
Army, then commanded by Major-General Philip Schuyler, and thus was 
introduced to the General's family. He married his daughter Angelica with- 
out her father's consent. Mr. Carter or Church, I know not when he assumed 
the last, his true name, was afterwards, with Wadsworth, Commissary of the 
French Army, and in that employment amassed an immense fortune without 
any reproach. After the war, Church went to Paris, settled his accounts with 
the French Government, returned to England, his native counti-y, purchased a 
borough, was returned to the House of Commons, and formed intimate rela- 
tions with Charles Fox, who borrowed from him twenty thousand pounds 
sterling. Church remained in England until about 1790, when he came to 
New York with his family, purchased real estate in that city, enjoyed all the 
rights and performed all the duties of an American citizen. He voted, and 
from time to time served as a juryman, having, as he said, " the misfortune fre- 
quently to serve on the jury with eleven devilish obstinate men." 

In the enjoyment of extensive means, he lived expensively, was hospitable, 
and having a disposition to indulge in games of chance, he became, with sev- 
eral gentlemen of New York, an out-door insurer. During that period, when 
our commerce was almost annihilated by the policy of England and France, 
his fortune was essentially impaired, and thus the claims for losses under the 
Florida Treaty arose. He remained in this country until about 1811, when 
he went to England not intending to return, and died there. Under this state 
of facts, the question whether he was an American citizen arose, and after a 
free and full discussion the commission decided that Church was a citacn on 
the ground that. " once a citizen, always a citizen." The claim was allowed 
and paid. I had two other claims in which I was successful. 

During my attendance upon the commission, I frequently visited Kufus 
King and Mr. Van Buren, then Senators from New York. Mr. King took a 
deep interest in my success. At one visit I well recollect he expressed regret 
that I had not come in a little sooner, because, he said, " Giles, late Governor 
of Virginia, has been with me and talking of your father and the events of the 
day; he made a clean breast of it. (You know it was he who in 1793 intro- 
duced in the House of Representatives resolutions concerning yonr father's 
management of the Treasury.) Governor Giles said, ' I did not believe Ham- 
ilton had done anything wrong ; those resolutions were drawn up by Mr. 
Madison, who urged me to present them; that Madison was the most vindictive 
little fellow he had ever known.' " At another visit, Mr. King told me that 
Van Buren wished to be appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of the 
United States, and that he, Mr. King, had urged his appointment, He then 
asked me if I thought he would make a good Judge. I replied : " He is 
entirely trustworthy," and at the bar prepared his causes with great industry, 



02 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

and argued them well. Judge Thompson received the appointment, and Van 
Buren was very much dissatisfied. 

Calhoun called upon me, and invited me to an evening party. When I was 
presented to him, he expressed much pleasure at seeing me, and said, "I wish 
you would remain near me until my guests have all come in; I wish to talk 
with you." I did so — and shortly afterwards he took me by the arm, walked 
to a corner of the room, asked me if he could render me any service in Wash- 
ington : and after expressing his admiration for my father, said, " Sir, I have a 
clear conviction after much reflection, and an entire knowledge and familiarity 
with the history of our country and the working of our government, that his 
policy as developed by the measures of Washington's administration, is the only 
true policy for the country." I expressed my thanks : he introduced me to 
some of his friends and asked me to call upon him whenever I had leisure to 
do so. 

Calhoun was then hoping to be President, and doubtless supposed I would 
communicate to my Federal friends these views. 

During the period of my attendance on the commissioners under the Florida 
Treaty, I became acquainted with William Crawford, whom Irving much esteem- 
ed. He was intelligent, well informed and scrupulously upright. His views in 
regard to the administration of the government seemed to me to be very judi- 
cious. 

During this time, there was an active canvass going on in Washington as 
to who should be the candidate of the Ecpublican party at the election in 1824. 
I became interested in Mr. Crawford, and worked hard for his election. 

Martin Van Bcren to James A. Hamilton. 

" "Washington, January 26, 1825. 
"My Dear Hamilton : I wrote you a long letter the other day, but burnt it in 
consequence of its having been delayed but one day, and that short period Laving 
worked an almost entire revolntiou in the state of things here. At present our af- 
fairs are situated thus; — Clay and Lis friends Lave settled down for Adams. TLis 
makes for Adams, certain, the following States; five in New England, Illinois, Oliio, 
and Kentucky. Tlie States on which they calculate, and the only ones to wLicli 
tliey can lay tlie least claim, are Ehode Island, New York, Maryland, LJissonri and 
Louisiana — making the thirteen. They must get every one of them to succeed, and 
they have no pretensions to any other. Tiie unexpected and apparently unnatural 
course taken by Mr. Clay's friends, has produced the strongest possible feelings of 
resentment. Jackson's friends are of course in arms. The combination is avowedly 
liostile to Mr. Callioun, and his friends are highly excited. The push on tlie part 
of Mr. Adams' supporters will he to succeed on the first ballot. If they do not there 
is no such tiling as forming a rational conjecture as to after results. Ida not ielicve 
they will so succeed, but their chance is far from desperate. It will depend on 
slight circumstances how the matter goes after the first ballot. Mr. Crawford's 
chance in the house will then be better than it has been at any period. Ills friends 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 63 

adhere to their determination to abide by him. Even if they wished to support 
Jackson, that woukl, under the circumstances, be tlie most advisable course. I will 
not say absolutely that it is not possible for Crawford's friends to elect Jackson, but 
I doubt it extremely. It is certain that there would be greater probability of suc- 
cess if Jackson's friends "were to support Crawford. To that we look. If the ques- 
tion was now between Crawford and Adams, and South Carolina was to decide it, 
Mr. Crawford would succeed, I thank you Tiindly for your oflFer to come down. I 
do not see that it can be of any avail, but if you bave curiosity to be here why not 
gratify it. I have had hard work to keep on the ground I suggested to you, but have 
succeeded in doing so, and find cause for gratification in having done so. As long as 
Eddy holds out, there is amoral certainty that Adams cannot he elected; but you 
know how he will stand if Adams gets the twelve States. Yours truly, &c." 

Maktin Van Bueen to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, December 20, 1826. 
" My Deae Sir : I return you Bunner's letter. Ilis feelings are evidently against 
us, and nothing but the fear of being regarded as a deserter will keep him on the 
right side. The only way of efi^ecting that, in my judgment, is to speak of his going 
over as a probable event attributable to the insincerity of liis conversion. Unless 
restricted by you I will in a few days hold that sort of talk to Verplank, to w'hom 
by right he must look for his safety. My conversation will of course be such as to 
exclude suspicion of what ought not to be known. B. is right in one thing. There 
is not the least doubt that everything Noah says against Adams does him great good 
with our country Republicans who look upon Noah literally with abhorrence. Is 
there not spirit enough in the Democratic party of the great city of New York to 
establish a press in which honest men can confide? Belts is nominated for judge. 
The Federalists struggled hard to prevent it, but have been quieted by the assurance 
that it was necessary to give a few appointments to the Bucktails, as they call us, to 
divide them and thus enable the same sort of coalition which succeeded in 1826 to 
triumiih in 1828. Taylor has been chief manager in tlie business, that is certain. 
Mr. Sandford, to my knowledge, was not advised wnth or of the matter. Judge 
Betts had, you know, an avenue of direct approach to the President through * * 
* * But the leading motive is to enable Young and Porter to make a party out 
of the Democratic iutei-est in the State. If you had any other paper than Nonh's 
you could make much of this huckstering, siniffling course ; but the least said about 
it the better. I have not at present the least doubt of my election. My accounts 
warrant that belief. The administration here will be cautious how they meddle. 
It seems they are determined not to give me up. For the last two days the report 
of the day has been that the oflice of Secretary of State was to be offered to me, 
and Mr. Clay to run for the Vice Presidency, &c., &c. There is no doubt that the 
folks hei-e would do any thing now that was desired of them, but it is out of the ques- 
tion. They have nothing in their gift that I would hesitate a moment in refusing; 
but this language you know it w^ould not do to hold publicly. My time has come. 
Write me often and frankly. Truly yours, &c." 



C4 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Martin Van Burex to James A. Hamilton, 

"Washington, December 30, 1820. 
"My Dear Hamilton: I cannot ailvise as to the use of the letter until I see it. 
If you are not wiUinuj to send nie a copy, with directions to burn it after read, the 
matter must rest until I can see yon. You have certainly a riglit to use all lawful 
weapons to get at the means necessary to do justice to your father's memory. I beg 
you to get and send me fortliwith such extracts from the correspondence between 
General Washington and your father as relates to the power of the General Govern- 
ment over tlie subject of internal improvements. If it can be useful I will send it 
back to your brother John, and get it authenticated, as he has the other extract. 
Don,'' t forget this, as I onny tcant to use it soon. You liave seen the blow up about the 
Vice-President. lie has turned the war completely into the enemy's camp. Taylor 
has outraged all propriety in the appointment of the committee. The Vice-Presi- 
dent's friends, as you will see by the telegraph, believe that this is done not so much 
to harass him as to defend themselves by preventing inquiries as to who moved the 
wires. Satterlee Clark, who is the ostensihie man, is from your city, and talks big 
here about iSTew York politics. He makes speeches about the certainty of my defeat, 
&c. &c. Very sincerely your friend, &c. 

" P. S. Inter nos.—l dined with the President on Friday, when the following 
dialogue took place: President — 'I am much troubled, sir, about the appointment of 
Surveyor in New York.' Answer — ' I presume so. It was a source of much trouble 
to Mr. Monroe.' President — 'Yes, but his was voluntary.' Keply — ' I presume you are 
bard pressed to re-appoint the present incumbent?' President — 'Yes, and I liave 
great repugnance to the act.' A long pause — but nothing more said on either side. 
Ought I to liavc said more unless expressly asked? The design in introducing the 
conversation was obvious, but it is too late in the day. I was so certain from John 
King's manner and conversation when he left me, that he carried instructions to 
open the war upon me, that I wrote to Campbell my impression by the same mail, 
and requested Gei:eral A^au Rensselaer to lay by the ammunition for me." 

Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton to uer Son, James A. Hamilton. 

"Mat 11, 1827. 
" My Dear Son : Your unremitting kindness and attentions, and in this last 
instance of providing for my comfort, demands my most ardent and affectionate 
thanks. As I think my wants will not require your enclosed check until the autumu, 
let me say to you that when I shall require your goodness to aid me I will call upon you. 
As all good acts arc recorded in the habitation where your father now is, I iiave no 
doubt this one will be proclaimed to him, and have thus given liim another motive 
to implore continued blessings upon you. Amen, my dear son ! Your affectionate 
mother." 

This letter, so full of kindness and fervent piety, aflfords a suitable occasion 
to record another, and her last, evidence of her affection for the same son. [ In 
1854 my mother resided in Washington (her daughter, Mrs. Eliza Holly, living 
with her). On the 8th day of November, 1854, I was informed by my sister 
that our mother was quite sick. I went immediately to Washington, and 
arrived there on the morning of 9th November. I found my mother so sick as to 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 65 

induce a belief that she would not recover, and such, I learned from her attend- 
ing physician, was his opinion. She had no acute disease or pain. I passed 
the day in her room, and in the evening my dear good sister, who was so unre- 
mitting in her attentions, said to me, " James, I sat up with mother last night, I 
wish you to do so to-night ; I will sleep on the sofa in the next room ; there is 
no medicine to be given to her ; should there be any change, call me." This was 
about nine at night. I took my seat at the bedside with my face to my mother's, 
holding the pulse of her right wrist with my right hand, and so continued about 
two hours, the pulse growing more feeble all the time. At length, about eleven 
o'clock, mother in a clear voice asked me to change the bedclothes at her feet, 
which I did, and then, intending to resume my place', I bowed my head down to 
see if there was any change in her countenance. She put her arm around my 
neck, pressed me to her, kissed me most affectionately ; and said, '• God bless 
you, you have been a good son ;" the arm was relaxed, there was a slight 
hiccough, a slight discharge of dark-colored liquid from the sides of her mouth, 
and she was dead — her pulse and breath were gone. I wiped off her mouth, 
kissed her, and called my sister. Her intellect seemed to be as clear at the 
last moment of her life as it ever was. It was my good fortune to have almost 
the entire care and management of her 'affairs. The elder son, Alexander, was 
away from home attending to his commercial affairs. I remained at the Grange 
with her as long as she remained there, attending to the cultivation and house- 
hold, and after her father's death I became useful in collecting her rents and 
selling such parts of her property as her needs required. She was a most 
earnest, energetic, and intelligent woman. Her engagements as a principal of the 
Widow's Society and Orphan Asylum were incessant. In support of these 
institutions she was constantly employed, and as I once playfully told her, 
"Mamma, you are a sturdy beggar." She replied, "My dear son, I cannot 
spare myself or others ; my Maker has pointed out this duty to me, and has 
given me the ability and inclination to perform it." Her mind and body never 
rested, because both were always employed. She was a skilful house-wife ; 
expert at making sweetmeats and pastry ; she made the undergarments for her 
children, was a great economist and most excellent manager. During the few 
last years of her life, living at Washington, she took great interest in j)ublic 
affairs. Without intending to say any thing offensive, she habitually spoke of 
the slave-holding States as the " African States." She was a devout Christian, 
the best of wives, mothers, and women. At the time she was the principal of 
the Orphan Asylum, she found a little fellow in the arms of a fireman whose 
parents had been destroyed by the burning of their house. Being an orphan, 
she directed the fireman to take the little " McKavit " to the Orphan Asylum, 
on the Bloomingdale Road, giving him the means to hire a carriage to do so, 
and gave him her card, with directions to say she had sent him with the boy, 
who was to be taken care of. This was done. He was a bright boy — x-eeeived 
as good an education as the asylum afforded. When he arrived at the proper 

5 



66 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

age (16 years), she obtained a place for bim at tbe Military Academy. He 
went tbrougb tbe course ; was put back tbe first year for deficiency, but 
ultimately took bis degree. Sbe tbeu obtained a commission for bim as a 
Second Lieutenant of Infantry. He remained in tbe army, was promoted to a- 
captain, was in tbe Mexican \Var, and was killed at Monterey gallantly leading 
bis company into tbe bottcst of tbe figbt. He contributed to tbe asylum every 
year after be left it an annual sum, and tbe day before bis deatb be made a will 
and bequeatbed all be bad to tbe asylum. Tbe writer of tbis note collected 
* back pay and investments ; tbe sum. according to bis best recollection, was about 
ei'i-bteen bundled dollars, wbicb was paid over to Mrs. Betbune, tbe principal 

directress. 
X My success as tbe agent of claims under tbe Florida Treaty enabled me to 
pay off a mortgage of $3,000 on a two-story brick bouse in Varick near Broome 
street in wbicb I lived several years, and to enter upon a new course oT life. 

From 1825, wben I purcbased eigbty lots of ground, as before stated, I 
devoted my attention to making money by dealing in real estate in New York 
and Brooklyn, and building bouses, witb very marked success. I purcbased a 
block of ground bounded by four streets, near tbe Navy Yard, Brooklyn, witb 
a dwelling bouse, at public auction, wbtcb I divided into lots and sold at over 
one bundred per cent, advance. I purcbased lots in Jackson street, built four 
two-story brick bouses, and sold tbem at a considerable advance. In association 
witb Mr. C. H. Hall, I built a Bull's Head tavern corner of Twenty-fourtb 
street and Tbird Avenue, and laid out proper yards between tbat and Twenty- 
tbird street ; I also built two brick dwellings nortb of Twenty-fourtb street 
and Tbird Avenue. I sold tbe Bull's Head property and tbe two bouses 
for forty tbousand dollars. I built a tbree-story brick bouse in Laigbt street, 
and one in Varick street, wbere I lived for several years. I purcbased a large 
square on Broadway, wbere tbe New York Hotel now stands, for fifty-two tbous- 
and dollars. After bolding it for tbree or four years, I sold it in parcels at a 
very great advance. 



CHAPTER IV. 

FROXI DECEMBER, 1827, TO DECEMBER, 1828. 

A visit to New Orleans — Gen. Jackson at home — A banquet in Nashville — Incidents 
of the Battle of Few Orleans — Anecdotes about Gen. Jackson — Threat to shoot 
a river pilot — Mrs. Jackson's Arrival at New Oi-leans — Entertainments — A negro 
ball — Mobile — Adventure witli the Indians — Impressions of Gen. Jackson — 
Political manoeuvres — Offer of a position as aide-de-camp ou Gov. Van Baren's 
staff— The offer declined, but the appointment made — Paper on banks and bank- 
ing. 

In December, 1827, I was appointed by the Corporation of the City of New 
York, together with Messrs. Saul Alley and Thaddeus Phelps, to present to his 
Excellency the Governor of the State of Louisiana, a copy of Mr. Colden's 
memoir " on the New York Canals, with a medal struck to commemorate 
the completion of the Erie Canal ; and to represent the Republican Citizens 
of the City of New York, and, in their behalf, to tender to Major-General 
Andrew Jackson their congratulations on the return of the glorious anniversary 
of the Battle of New Orleans." 

This appointment was made without my knowledge, or any intimation by 
whom, or from what consideration, the honor was conferred upon me. I ac- 
cepted it with pleasure, because it afforded me an opportunity to see much of 
our country, and particularly one of those men who, by a brilliant military 
achievement, had rendered it a very important service. 

As my associates had gone to New Orleans on business, I decided to make 
my way to the residence of Gen. Jackson, Nashville, Tennessee, and to accom- 
pany him to New Orleans. 

I left Washington by stage for Wheeling, in Virginia, on the 13th day of 
December, 1827 ; passed through Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, from thence to Louis- 
ville, which place I left on the 19th, for the mouth of the Cumberland Ptiver; 
left Smithland on the 21st, and arrived at Nashville on Sunday, the 23d of 
December, at 7 o'clock p. m. 

The next day Col. Ward, a neighbor and much, valuel friend of General 



68 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Jackson, called upon nie, and proposed to accompany me to the Hermitage, 
twelve miles distant from Nashville. We travelled on horseback. On our 
arrival, at mid-day, the Genei-al received us most cordially. 

There came to dinner William B. Lewis, Robert Armstrong, and others. 
A peculiarity of Western entertainment Avas, that as soon as dinner was an- 
nounced, all the gentlemen went to the side-board in the drawing-room to take 
a drink, and then all went into the dining-room. I observed during all my 
visit that the table was loaded with food, and in all the spare rooms there were 
two beds. The General's house was the stoppiug-place for travellers going to 
Nashville. Here they ate and slept, not occasionally, but from day to day ; so 
much so, that the General said to me, " Colonel, we must take our horses ; we 
have no opportunity to be alone here." The evening of the day I arrived, there 
drove up a farmer with wife, children, and servants, to stay the night ; and such 
■was the usual course of things. " He kept a tavern, without the privilege of 
making a bill." 

During the second morning Mrs. A. J. Donelson (whom I afterwards so 
well knew and so much esteemed and admired) came up to the door on horse- 
back, with her infant in her arms, and the colored nurse on another horse. I 
was astonished to see a young and delicate lady and mother making a visit in 
this manner, and was told it was the most convenient ; because the streams, 
o-enerally speaking, in the country, were not bridged ; and from house to house, 
off the general highways, they travelled in by-paths. 

On the 24th Dec, 1S27, I was invited by a portion of the citizens of Nash- 
ville to a public dinner at the Nashville Inn. 

The dinner was numerously attended. It was given in the house where 
Jesse and Thomas Benton made a deadly assault upon Gen. Jackson. The 
place of the assault was shown, and all the circumstances related to me. Jack- 
.son's life was only saved by his coolness and courage. 

The General's conversation was frank and interesting. He seemed anxious 
to learn the characters of different public men in New York, and particularly 
as to Clinton and Van Buren ; their probable course and their influence upon 
the approaching election. Afterwards I became convinced that, confident of suc- 
cess, he was looking to the future. 

His opinion of Clinton was elevated ; and, as I believe, far above his 
deserts. He had heard much of Van Buren that was unfavorable. I replied 
that I had known him well before the war of 1812 ; that he Avas then an 
earnest and useful supporter of the Government. His reputed cunning was 
referred to. I replied that I had not seen any thing of that kind ; that he was 
unquestionably sagacious, proverbially cautious; and that his success in his 
profession was due to his industry in preparing, and his skill in trying, his 
causes. His political success was due rather more to the folly and want of 
patriotism of the opposing faction, and the popular impulses connected with the 
■war. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 69 

The General spoke liigbly of the course of Rufiis King during the war, as 
opposed to that of Eastern Federalists. I was satisfied he thought very highly 
of Clinton. 

The General related the following incidents connected with the Battle of 
New Orleans. When his boats with his army made the shore above the city, he 
was informed that the enemy were landing below. He immediately ordered 
his men to prepare to advance, and, attended by a few cavalry, he, with Edward 
Livingston, went into the city. On his way to the front he was met and stop- 
ped by a crowd of men and women in great distress. 

" I told Livingston, who understood their language, to address them, and to 
say, ' I am going down to meet the enemy. I will drive them off, or die in 
your defence.' He did so. I loent on my way to duty, they went off to dance.'''' 
His first entrenchments were lower down the river ; finding they were not 
advantageously situated, he placed them where they were when the great battle 

was fought. I remarked, " You retreated, then ? " " Yes, by the , and it 

was the only time I ever retreated in my life." 

One of the large guns was commanded by a captured pirate, who was an 
excellent gunner. The General said, " Never was a gun fired with more 
rapidity, skill, and effect. At every discharge it swept through the line of the 
enemy, making a wide gap, which was again and again filled up immediately, 
with a degree of courage 1 never before witnessed. At length, however, they 
faltered, and I then said, ' Fire away ; by God, I have them ! ' " 

At the period of my visit, the currency in that part of the country was 
scarce. The banks were bankrupt, as I learned ; and before measures wei-e taken 
by the Government to restore specie payments, the currency was so extended, 
that land which had before sold for ^8, or §10, per acre, was then held at about 
$70, and so of all other values. 

The Treasury used the Bank of the United States, Madison's Bank, to re- 
deem the currency. Very many who lost money by the change attributed their 
losses to the Bank; and from the views and feelings expressed by the General 
as to the course of the Bank, I inferred he was one of those who had suffered, 
and who took that view. He expressed strong opinions against the Bank of 
the United States; and to my great astonishment said, (when excited,) ^'■Colonel, 
your Father was not in favor of the Bank of the United States."" I was confound- 
ed, and at a loss what to say, as I did not suppose he spoke from want of knowl- 
edge, but from a reference to this particular Bank, and made no reply. 

The steamer Pocahontas was chartered by citizens of New Orleans to con- 
vey the General and his party from Nashville to that city. She was fitted out 
in the most sumptuous manner. The party was General and Mrs. Jackson, two 
gentlemen with their wives, a young lady. Miss B — , Governor Samuel Hous- 
ton, Wm. B. Lewis, Robert Armstrong, and others, and the New York dele- 
gate. The only freight was the General's cotton-crop. 

Daring the voyage, we stopped at the different towns on the river, at the 



70 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

most of wliiclx tlie people were assembled ; and at the principal ones, commit- 
tees addressed the General, to whom he made appropriate replies. In the course 
of the voyage an event occurred, which I repeat, as it is suggestive of character. 
A steamer of greater speed than ours, going in the same direction, passed us, 
crossed our bow ; then stopped and let us pass her ; and then passed us again 
in triumph. This was repeated again and again, until the General, being ex- 
cited by the offensive course, ordered a rifle to be brought to him ; hailed the 
pilot of the other steamer, and swore that if ho did the same thing again he 
would shoot him. As I believed the General was in earnest, and as such an 
outrage could not be of service to our cause, I went below and stated to Mrs. 
Jackson what had occurred ; she said mildly, " Colonel, do me the favor to say 
to the General I wish to speak to him." I did so. He went to the cabin with 
me, and remained there in chat with her. 

I conversed much with Mrs. Jackson, and found her an amiable, sensible 
woman. It has frequently occurred to me that it was a Very great misfortune 
that she did not live to exert her influence over the General, and guide him by 
her good sense and good feelings, when he was President. If she had been 
alive, the great mistake in relation to Mrs. Eaton would not have been made. 

Mrs. Jackson was an uncommonly ugly woman — I mean in her appearance 
only. She was the first woman I ever saw smoke a cigar. She was correct and 
easy in her manners, playful in conversation, and fond of a joke, as the fol- 
lowing will show : 

Before we arrived at Natchez, where I was to leave the party and go on to 
meet my colleagues, the young lady of the party told me she feared her bonnet 
was not fit to be seen at New Orleans, and asked me if I could not 
get one for her and send it aboard, before they landed. As an enterprising 
man, and not a little disposed to be gallant, I replied : " If you are willing to 
trust to my taste, I will make the attempt." Shortly afterward, the two young 
married ladies, hearing Avhat had occurred, asked me to get bonnets for them, 
which I also engaged to do. A day or two after this, Mrs. Jackson said : " Colo- 
nel, I wish you would do me a great favor," I replied, " Madam, it will afford 
me much pleasure to render you any service in my power." " I have under- 
stood you have engaged to get bonnets in New Orleans for these ladies. Now 
I wish to test your enterprise by asking you to get a bonnet for me and a le- 
coming one.'''' This was said with a serai-serious air, which induced the ladies 
as well as herself to smile, 

I replied, " I will prove to you, madam, that I have the skill as well as enter- 
prise to do ail you require." 

As soon as I arrived at New Orleans, I presented a letter of introduction 
Mr, Livingston had given me to Mr. Montgomery, and by the advice of his 
family I went to the most fashionable milliner in New Orleans; purchased for 
the ladies their several bonnets, and had them properly packed and sent to the 
party on board the steamer above the city. The bonnets were worn by the 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON, 71 

ladies at tbeir reception ; and Mrs, Jackson was tbo belle of tbe occasion. Tbe 
General stopped at Natcbez, wberea committee of arrangements bad come up to 
meet bim. It was arranged tbat be sbould leave tbe steamer at tbe battle-field, 
wbere he and bis party would be received by tbe Governor. Tbis was done ; 
and after addresses by tbe Governor and otbers, tbe New YorK committee were 
presented, and an address was made by tbe writei*, as cbairman of tbe committee ; 
to wbieh an appropriate reply was made by tbe General. 

Tbe delegates addressed tbe following letter to bis Excellency Henry 
Johnson, Governor of Louisiana. 

" Sir : We have been desired by the Corporation of the city of Few York to deliver 
to you a Medal, struck iu commemoratioa of the completion of the Erie Canal ; a copy 
of Mr. Colden's Memoir on the New York Canals, with a letter from the appropri- 
ate committee ; and are ready to wait upon your Excellency to perform that duty, 
whenever it will be most agreeable to you to receive us. 

" We have the honor to be, with great respect, your liumhle servants, 

"James A. Hamiltost, 
"Saul Alley, 
" Thaddeus Pptelps. 
"To his Excellency Henry Jolmson, Governor of Louisiana." 

To which tbe Governor replied, tbat be would receive tbe delegation at 10 
o'clock of the morning of tbe 9tb of January. 

On tbat day tbe delegation met the Governor, and Mr. Hamilton, in tbeir 
behalf, presented the memoir and letter ; to which tbe Governor replied : 

"I receive, Gentlemen, with tbe greatest pleasure, the testimonials which the 
Corporation of the city of New York have been pleased to offer through you, of 
their approbation of the conduct of my fellow-citizens on the glorious 8th of January, 
1815. The beautiful specimen of art, and tlie valuable productions of knowledge 
and talent which you present, would be at any time highly interesting. Given on 
the present occasion, as a compliment from the Corporation of the first city in the 
Union, they afford the proudest satisfaction; and tliey will be appreciated by the 
people of Louisiaun, as they are by me. The State of New York enjoys the distinc- 
tion of having led the van." 



^o 



A part of tbe programme was, tbat tbe General and bis party were to go to 
the Catholic church, wbere an aged Catholic priest was to make an address to 
bim. Tbe address was prepared and brought up by tbe committee, and given 
to tbe General, tbat be might be enabled to prepare bis answer. Tbis was a 
poser ; bis friends were much at a loss bow to make a proper ansvrer at a religious 
ceremony. They stated their difficulty to tbe General, who said, " Oli, give it 
to tbe Colonel ; be knows how to address such a character." I took the address 
with me, prepared tbe answer, and delivered it to tbe General ou bis way to 
tbe church. 

Tbe next entertainment was a public dinner, wbere speeches were made 
in French and English. They were translated from one language into the 



72 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Other by Major Dayis, witli great focilitj. That made by the delegates 
from New York, by their chairman, was a tolerably good speech when given 
in French by the translator, with his eloquent emendations, easy and flowing 
language. Next and last was a ball at Davis's rooms, where I saw the waltz 
danced more gracefully by the Creoles than in any part of the world — London 
Paris, and New York not excepted. 

During the evening Gov. Houston said to me, " Colonel, there is another ball 
at this time in this building which will interest you ; will you go to it ? " I went 
with him. It was a Quadroon ball. There was an amphitheatre of seats where 
the black wenches sat, while the girls who were brought there for sale, and 
others, danced with white men. They were very well dressed. They were 
genei-ally under-sized, but well-formed and graceful. While looking on at this 
novel and disgusting scene, and listening to Houston's explanations, a gentle- 
man saluted me, whom I recognised as Mr. Allain. After talking with him 
awhile, Houston called me away, and said, " Where did you make his acquaint- 
ance ? " " At Saratoga Springs," I answered, " when I was there with 
Grimes." " Come here," said he, " and I will show you his daughters," and 
be pointed out two Quadroons. 

Houston explained that these girls were purchased by the planters for about 
$5,000, a large part of which was invested in a house and furniture and con- 
veyed to the slave-mistress. Coming down to New Orleans, on Sunday 
evening, we stopped at all the landings, where large numbers of well-dressed 
men came on board. I asked one of the gentlemen of the committee what 
this meant. " They are going to the opera," he said, "and then they go to the 
houses of their Quadroon girls, where they breakfast, dining at the St. Charles 
Hotel." I was informed that this was the accustomed arrangement for the 
married and single men; and that by the laws of Louisiana, unless the act of 
adultery was committed in the domicil of the husband, there could be no divorce. 
Along the coast, near New Orleans, a part of the river is called " The Yellow 
Bend." This part of the country was inhabited by the offspring of white men, — 
a marriage between the white and colored races being invalid. The whites of 
property purchased land along the coast, and conveyed it to their children. At 
one of the places where we stopped to wood, a black woman came down with 
slaves to put the wood on board ; and there came a well-dressed colored man 
on the steamer to go as a passenger to New Orleans. 

He told me he was from St. Domingo, where he was educated ; that he was 
employed on that j^huitation to teach the children of the owner, who was an 
Octoroon man ; and at other plantations in the neighborhood. He said there 
were several families of the colored race there with their slaves, who were well 
off, owning lands. This man, respectable in ajjpearance and manners, and well 
educated, was not permitted to go into the cabin. 

After a most interesting visit of a few days, T took leave of my friends, left 
New Orleans in a sail-vessel for Mobile, where I passed three or four days 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 73 

ao-reeably and usefully; and from thence went up the Alabama River in a 
steamer to Montgomery. My companion on this journey was Mr. Corbin, a 
very worthy gentleman, from Virginia. 

At Montgomery we ascertained that the stage for the North, in which there 
were two or three of my friends, on their way to New York, had left in the 
morning, and that another stage would not leave for the North in two days. 
Anxious to overtake that stage, we engaged a wagon to take us to the stage- 
house before the stage should start in the morning. While at dinner, a United 
States Agent for the Creek Indians, learning who we were, and that we were 
going on that night, presented himself to us, and urged us to remain over and 
hunt with him. " The Indians," he said, "were very much excited just now, 
in consequence of one of the tribe having been wantonly murdered. A boy 
and a negro, deer-hunting in the forest, saw an Indian walking along at some 
distance. The negro said to the boy, ' Try if you can hit him.' He did so, 
and killed the Indian." Anxious to overtake our companions, we persisted in 
going on, under the belief that as we were travelling during a dark and drizzling 
night, the Indians would not be abroad. The agent said, " Gentlemen, as you 
persist in going on, which I think is quite dangerous, if you meet any Indians, 
when you are accosted, say that you are the friends of John Bascomb." We 
went on our way in an open wagon, two horses and a driver, who was well 
acquainted with the road and country. 

I must here state that Gen. Jackson related many incidents connected with 
the Creek war, and among other persons of whom he spoke in the highest terms, 
was a Captain Walker, who had married a squaw and lived at Fort Hull in the 
Creek country. As we went on our way, at midnight, in the forest, one of our 
horses gave out. We got out to assist the driver to overcome the difficulty, but 
in vain. I asked him how far we were from the tavern to which we were going. 
He said fifteen miles. I asked if there were any houses near. He replied, 
that Fort Hull was off the road about three miles, pointing in the direction. 
He put us on the track, and went back to remain with his horses, while we de- 
cided to go there for assistance. Mr. Corbin and I had not proceeded over a 
mile in the dense forest, when we saw the light of a fire, which was rather cheer- 
ing. We advanced towards it, and then saw a large number of Indians lying 
with their feet to the fire, encircling it. They were evidently asleep. We 
halted. The question between us was whether to retreat or go on. Believing 
that they would quickly hear our footsteps if we retreated, and fearing that 
we might be pursued and injured, we decided to go up to them. Proceeding a 
few steps, which we took firmly, one of them leaped up with a shout, which 
brought the others to their feet, and their weapons to their hands. After a 
word between them, one advanced and addressed us. I replied, " Friends of 
John Bascomb." The Indian cried out, " friends of John Bascomb, what do 
you want?" "To go to Fort Hull, Capt. Walker." This was repeated, and 
after a talk among them in their own language, a negro was sent to talk with us. 



74 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

We informed him that we were travellers going to the North — that we saw the 
agent at Montgomery — that our horses were on the road, having given out, and 
now we wanted to go to the Fort. This was rej^eated to the Indians. A lead- 
ing man came forward and asked us to come to the fire; and shortly, a black 
boy was ordered to light a pine-knot and guide us to the Fort. We thanked 
them for their kindness, and went our way. The boy took us in an air-line to 
the Fort, where we found the drawbridge was raised. The dogs barked 
furiously, the Captain was awakened, and when he asked who we were, I replied, 
"Travellers, friends of Gen. Jackson." The way was opened directly, and Capt. 
Walker introduced us to his wigwam, the Fort. His spouse, who was a squaw, 
was asked to get us coffee, which was done ; and upon learning our difficulties, a 
horse was sent to where our wagon was, guided by the Indian messenger, who 
went back rejoicing at his night's work, and in due time our wagoner drove 
up, leading his wearied horses. We supped ; fought over some of the battles 
of the Creek war ; gave the Captain full information of the General's move- 
ments, intimating that he might be elected President, at which Walker greatly 
rejoiced. When ready to depart, I was prepared to pay for the services he had 
rendered us, but he said, " No, Colonel, I am too happy to have rendered this 
slight service to a friend of Gen. Jackson, my glorious commander." We 
drove to the tavern ; arrived there before it was light ; were compelled to sleep 
on the floor of the bar-room on our cloaks, with our carpet-bags for pillows; 
because the landlord, when we knocked at the inner door, so directed us. In 
the morning he informed us that from the unsettled condition of the Indians he 
could not let any person within whom he did not know, after nightfall. He had 
married an Indian woman. We understood that white men were very ready to 
take the daughters of the chiefs to wife, because they got with them lands and 
slaves. Tlie head men of the barbarous as well as of the more civilized com- 
munities, always have the opportunity to take the " lion's share." 

In the morning we drove on with the stage and our companions, without any 
incident worthy of remark until we reached Virginia. lu the course of one 
night, the stage stopped at a negro cabin ; an old negro, with a light, brought 
a young one to the stage (the latter in tears), and put him outside on the seat 
with the driver ; a white man at the same time took a seat inside, putting under 
his feet, irons which attracted our attention. Upon inquiry, he informed us they 
were handcufis ; that he was taking the boy to be sold. When we next stopped, 
we examined the boy, and found him in great distress, from being separated 
from his parents. We conferred together, and decided that the white miscreant 
should not ride in the stage with us, and told him so ; consequently, as there was 
no room for him on the outside, he took the boy, his irons, and himself off, to ob- 
tain another conveyance. 
/y At Savannah, on the 29th of January, 1828, I addressed a letter to his 

/•.Excellency John Forsyth, Governor of Georgia, which will be given hereafter. 

« That letter led to circumstances of the gravest importance to the most dis- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A HAMILTON. 75 

tiuguislied officers of our goverument at the time, and to imputations upon my 
conduct of a serious character, which, as will be proved, and which I now declare 
in the most solemn manner, with a due sense of all my responsibilities in doing 
so, W3re not only wholly groundless, but were made without any evidence what- 
ever. I may add, as I do, after a careful retrospect of my long life, that this 
was the only occasion on which I have been charged or suspected of having 
been engaged in " artful opei-ations," "political manoeuvres,"' " a base political 
intrigue," or any dishonorable or dishonest conduct; and I here invite the most 
rigid scrutiny of all the facts and circumstances to which I shall refer, to prove 
the whole truth. 

Shortly after my return to New York, I addressed a letter to the General, 
to which I received the following reply, dated February 17, 1828 : 

"It is truly gratifying to me to learn that your journey, in the pleasurable inci- 
dents it aiforded, repaid in some degree the solicitude and anxiety natural to so long 
an absence from those most dear to us. * * * j jj^,^ intelligence of 

the death of your chief magistrate. Governor Clinton, a few days before the receipt 
of your kind letter. I sincerely deplore it. His expanded views ; his devoted atten- 
tion to the interests of the country, entitle him to a distinguished place in the aflec- 
tions of the people ; and I rejoice to hear that all parties will unite in the^^acknowl- 
edgmeut of his merits. New York here, too, sets an example worthy of imitation, 
worthy of her great res >urces and of their distinguished patron. 

"Mrs. Jackson continues in good health, and unites with me in the reciprocation 
of those kind feelings which you have been pleased to cherish in our behalf. 

"Believe me, my dear sir, your sincere friend, with every sentiment of respect, 

"Andeew Jackson." 

The following letters are given to show the impression General Jackson 
made upon me at my first acquaintance. The first, to Mr. Warner, was written 
at the request of Mr. Van Buren. 

To Matthew Waenee, Lima, New Yoek: 

" New York, September 15, 1828. 
"Sir: Your letter of the 4th inst., seeking information as to the character of 
Gen. Jackson, has been transmitted to me by your friend, with a request that I would 
reply to it. Tliis reference was probably judged expedient from my having been re- 
cently at Nashville, and for some days a visitor in General Jackson's house and 
neighborhood, and thus drawn into that close acquaintance with him which belongs 
to such a situation, as well as from my iiaving been a fellow passenger with him in a 
steamboat to New Orleans, and enjoyed that intimacy which ordinarily results from 
a voyage of some duration. 

" You observe 'that much has been said against General Jackson's moral charac- 
ter ;' that as you feel interested in his favor, you wish information on this jioint ; and 
that you are told by some of your fi'iends, that he is a good moral and pious man, 
and attends divine worsliip in a Christian church. 

" I found the General, when I visited him, living upon and cultivating an extensive 
and valuable farm, from which he derives his chief support. His house is a large. 



76 llEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

plaia building, and so arranged as to accommodate many visitors at the same time ; 
%yhicli is necessary, or at least convenient for Lim, because it is the resting-place of 
all persons, rich or poor, who travel in that direction ; and where all are received 
with cordiality and treated with sncli unaflected kindness and hospitality, as makes 
every one who participates in tliis generous conduct his personal friend — which has 
happened to several who came there with strong prejudices against him. 

" He is a sincere believer in the Christian religion, and performs his devotions 
regularly with his family in his own house, and in a Presbyterian church in his 
neighborliood, of which his most wortliy and benevolent but much slandered wife 
(they have no children) is a member in full connnunion. 

"From all I learned of his private life in his neighborhood, Avhere he is best 
known, I believe he is a just and upright num, and scr uniformly correct in all his 
dealings with his fellow-men, as to induce them to select liim more than any other 
man in all that part of tlie country as the arbiter of their differences, the executor 
of their estates, the guardian of their children. 

"In confirmation of that opinion it may bo remarked, that in this fierce contro- 
versy, marked by malignant slanders, in wliich no condition or relation of life has 
been held sacred, General Jackson has never been charged with a want of liberality 
or integrity in his dealings, punctuality in his contracts, or fidelity to his promise, 
even to his own hurt. His habits are temperate, his manners easy, frank, engaging, 
and his conversation is marked by that easy, unafl:ected behavior to all, that intimate 
knowledge of mankind, tb.at vigor of intellect and promptitude w^hicli have hereto- 
fore carried him so successfully through the diflerent situations of perplexity and 
peril in which he has been placed when in the service of his country. 

"As your inquiries are confined to the General's private life, I forbear to touch 
upon any subject of a public nature. 

" Wiih great respect, 

"I am your obedient servant, 

" James A. Hamilton." 



The following letter was written on the 3d July, 1828, to Timothy Picker- 
ing, one of the first men of our country. I knew him well ; he passed some 
time as my guest in New York, and, I am proud to say, I enjoyed his confidence. 

"Deae Sir : Your favor of the 3d ultimo is received. * * * You ask me for 
my opinion of Jackson's talents and manners. The last are of the most amiable, 
polished, and winning character. His intercourse has been much greater with men 
than with books. He therefore w^ell knows how to adapt his deportment to the 
character and condition of the dilferent classes with whom he meets. He possesses 
an independent spirit, and great confidence in his own jjowers; is therefore not em- 
barrassed under any circumstances in which he may be placed. I saw him with the 
multitude at New Orleans; and going down the river I saw him greeted and ad- 
dressed without previous notice by committees and individuals in set speeches; he 
was always at ease and prepared to reply in an appropriate and complimentary man- 
ner. He has a sound and vigorous intellect, uncommon promptitude aud decision. 
Indeed, that quality which is called out by peculiar circumstances, or by an efli'ort, on 
the part of most other men, has by the course of his life become habitual with him. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 77 

The "whole powers of his mind are more at his command than are those of any otlier 
man I ever met with. He is frank, and, I have no doubt, perfectly direct and 
upriglit. 

"I took occasion during my intercourse with him, which was rather intimate 
than otherwise, to touch upon Gen. Washington's mode of doing business with the 
members of his Cabinet. He listened with marked attention ; made many pertinent 
inquiries, and after the subject was exhausted, said, ' I have accustomed myself to 
receive with respect the opinions of others, but always take the responsibility of de- 
ciding for myself and acting upon my own opinion, if I think it most correct. That 
I believe to be not only the wisest but the safest course ; if I err, the blame thus 
attaches to him to whom it belongs.' 

"I have no doubt with such a Cabinet as he may select, our affairs will be safely 
and wisely, and I am sure they will be honestly and impartially, administered. He 
is industrious, and accustomed to look into the details of all departments, Avithout 
attempting to conduct them. 

"I have only time for this hasty sketch. You may make what use of it you 
please. I am gratified to see you are before the public on this subject. 

" Yours most truly, J. A. H." 

Martin Van Buken to Me. Coleman. 

" "WAsniXGTON, April 4, 1828. 
" Mr. Van Buren takes pleasure in presenting Mr. Coleman (for whose judgment 
he has much i-espect) with a copy of some observations recently made in the Senate 
of the United States. Mr. Van Buren is aware of the extent to which his views will 
clash with preconceived opinions on the part of Mr. C, but he is nevertheless confi- 
dent that they will be considered with liberality. If Mr. C. could, for ever so short 
a period, have a i)eep behind the curtains, he Avould be made sensible that the only 
chance for the perpetuity of existing institutions depends upon the preserved vigor 
and constant watchfulness of the State Governments ; that from the proneness on 
the part of agents so far removed from the people to corruption and other causes, 
there is not at this moment sufficient honesty in the administration of this Govern- 
ment to keep decent men in countenance; and that we are indebted for the little 
that remains to constant apprehension of rebuke and resistance from the States. A 
hotter opportunity could not arise, than that presented by the abuses of this Admin- 
istration for those who have so long been under the ban of public opinion to cut 
loose from sentiments which have fallen so far behind the march of events, and are 
now, or are likely to be, so discordant with the temper of the tiines. If proof is still 
wanting of the fallacy of the once prevalent error that the danger to the scheme 
consisted in the weakness of the head and strength of the members, take the striking 
fact that the present Chief Justice of the proudest and largest State in the Confed- 
eracy is at this moment a candidate for a subordinate place in the Treasury Depart- 
ment of this Government ; a place to which clerks conceive themselves to be entitled 
in succession, and to which none but third-rate men here would aspire." 

The followuig letters ai-e published as .a part of the material : 
Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" April 7, 1828. 
f "My Dear Sir: I yesterday requested you to get Mr. Coleman to show you a 
note I sent him with my observations. Since that I have seen a letter from him to 



78 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Mr. Cambreleng, from which it appears that he has very mistaken views upon the 
subject of tlie choice of electors. I have drafted a letter for Mr. Cambreleng, to 
write to him upon that subject. Seo both, and at the same time suggest to him the 
propriety of not mentioning the circumstance of either note, as their adversary 
would make a great handle of the matter if they knew it. Ilis good sense will 
have suggested that, however, before you see him. Old prejudices cannot be trifled 
with. You will see Gales' last weak attempt to excita jealousy in our ranks this 
morning. Your friend, &c. " 

Martix Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, May 21, 1828. 

"My Dear Sir: I will satisfy you when I see you that I have not said, or 
done, or contemplated any thing upon the subject of the nomination for Governor 
that you will not approve. I have given to Col. Benton's friend, Mr. Magines, 
from St. Lonis, a letter to yon. lie is, I believe, a warm-hearted Irish lawyer. I 
wish you would make him at his ease. The belief here is that we will to-day or 
to-morrow have the following nominations : Barbour to England ; P. R. Porter, 
Secretary of War ; Harrison to Columbia, and Robinson from Kentucky, to Mexico, 
in the place of Poinsett, to resign. The i)]an for the campaign is, that Savage is 
to be run for Governor, and Granger for Lieut. Governor of New York. Clay is 
to go to Kentucky, and make a desperate push to carry Metcalf's election, and if 
they fail in that, they are to give up the ghost. All this, I believe, may be confi- 
dently relied upon ; but don't get me in the papers. I fir,>t thought that the project 
of qualifying Savage for candidateship, by the appointment of Treasurer, was too 
preposterous to have received the sanction of the people here — deranged and des- 
perate as they are. But it is no longer to be doubted that such is the plan. If New- 
York is not recreant to every honorable sentiment, we will make them rue the day 
that this profligate scheme was conceived. 

" Yours truly, &c. " 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

"Albany, August 25, 1828. 

" My Dear Sir : I returned on Thursday from my Western excursion. It has 
been very pleasant, and I hope, politically speaking, has been equally profitable. 
We shall beat them greatly. The anti-masonic affiiir is the only thing that requires 
looking to. Beg Noah and Coleman to treat the matter cautiously. I have written 
to the former upon the point. The excitement has been vastly greater than I sup- 
posed, but has assumed a much milder aspect. Were it not for the pledges given 
not to vote for a mason, and the opprobrium of reproaches from their brethren, 
most of the anti-masonites who would otherwise have been with us, would be now, 
as matters stand, the friends of the administration ; and as much troubled with the 
subject as we are. You can have no idea how much the reputation of the Evening 
Post has improved in the country. It is now generally admitted to be one of the 
ablest papers in the Union. Let me entreat you to give your undivided attention 
to the subject of funds. You must absolutely do more in New York, than you 
promised. Our friends hero (at best but poor), will break down. This county alone 
will be a most oppressive struggle. The Patroon has been induced, by those who 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 79 

influence him to his prejudice, to consent to run for Congress, and our friends are 
determined to beat liim. I am entirely satisfied that he cannot save the electond 
vote for them. "We should not suffer the enemy to retain his ammunition after he 
has been routed. Will not the result of the Kentucky election induce them to bet? 
Between us and the 2'ost, make this bet for me, or on our joint account, as you 
please, viz.: $500 that Thompson will be defeated, whoever our candidate may 
be, and $100 on every thousand of a majority up to 5,000 ; or, if you can't do bet- 
ter, say $500 on the i-esult, and $50 on every thousand up to ten thousand. My 
visit through the "Western Country was very gratifying. At every place where T 
stopped for ever so short a period, I found myself in a few moments surrounded 
by crowds of cheerful countenances and stout hearts. Let Noah republish the bet. 
He mangles it as if he was shy of the question of a majority in the State. 

" Very sincerely, your friend, &c. 

"P. S. I have received yours since writing the above. Your views as to the 
delegates are correct. It would be hazarding too much to make out a list as you 
suggest. I shall go to Lebanon Springs on Friday, and remain there a day or two ; 
after that, will be generally home. Don't you want to go there and shake off the 
theatre dust? Don't forget to bet all you can." 

Maetin Van Buken to James A. Hamilton. 

"Albany, September 6, 1828. 
"My Dear Feiend : I hope sincerely that this will find you quite recovered. 
"Write an answer to the enclosed, in your best style. Say that I have sent his letter 
to you, and have requested you to answer it. Shape it so that you would not be 
displeased to see it in print, for such things will happen, although it probably will 
not in this case ; and by all means get some one to do me the favor to copy it, so 
that it may be read, which will not otherwise be practicable. Let me hear from 
you soon. Bet on Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois — jointly if you can, or any two 
of them. 

" Yours, cordially." 

Martin Van Bitren to James A. Hamilton. 

"September 16, 1828. 
" My Dear Sir : The letter is excellent without the last sentence, but that, as my 
name is mentioned in it, may give occasion for ill-natured criticism. Send it to me 
again as soon as you can, as I want to transmit it without delay. I think it would 
be better to leave out my name altogether, and say, " Your letter, seeking informa- 
tion as to the character of General Jackson, has been transmitted to me by your 
friend, with a request that I would reply to it." This reference was probably 
judged expedient and proper from, etc. ; and stilll eave out the last sentence, as it is 
political, etc. Yours, truly. 

" P. S, Does the old gentleman have prayers in his own house ? If so, mention 
it modestly. " 

James A. Hamilton to Captain Wright, Loxdon. 

"New York, November 2, 1828. 
"My Dear Sir: My absence from this city, with my engagements of a public 



80 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

and private nature, have prevented me from acknowledging the receipt of your let- 
ter of the 9th ultimo, from London. I assure you it afforded us all veiy great satis- 
faction to receive, so directly, an account of all the members of my father's family. 
Your brother Robert, who I well recollect, will probably have forgotten me. I 
hojic he enjoys good health, and should be pleased if you would make my respects 
to him. 

" We are all zealous-ly engaged in the election for the President of the United 
States, which commences in this State to-morrow and in all the other States about 
the same time. The election is very much contested, and Avill result iu the choice of 
General Jackson. To uj, who are accustomed to universal sufirage, it is an ordinary 
matter ; but to you and to most if not all others on your side of the water it must 
be a subject of curious and pleasing reflection to see a whole people, amount- 
ing to about twelve millions of souls, earnestly engaged in making choice by 
their immediate votes of their Chief Magistrate, without tumult, uninfluenced by a 
privileged order of any kind either in Church or State, and without corruption. It 
is true tliat the patronage of our simple, economical, but excellent Government (not 
so great as that of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, or to be compared with that of 
your India Company), has been exercised by our Premier in order to sustain the 
present President, and the scrutiny of the characters and conduct through life of 
both the candidates has been conducted without reserve, nay, even with a licentious 
freedom. But pardon me. I have forgotten that, surrounded by the pleasures and 
engagements of the Metropolis of the "World, you will hardly have given the slight- 
est attention to the events which engross us wholly ; and I am happy to add that at 
or about this time next year I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you in London, 
and of giving you in exchange for much useful information in regard to your own 
countr}", as much as you may desire in regard to this. I am making my arrange 
ments to sail with my wife and children in July or August next, for France; thence 
to visit England, Scotland, and the Continent. 

" Do me the favor to remember me to the Laird of Grange when you have occa- 
sion to write to him, and to any other members of our family. 

"With very great regard, your friend and servant, &c." 

Martin Van Bueen to James A. Hamilton. 

"Albany, December 17, 1828. 
"MyDearSik: I have received your letter, and have done as you advised in 
regard to my unknown correspondent. It never occurred to me until yesterday, 
whilst riding out on horseback (for we have delightful weatlier here), that it might 
be agreeable to you to obtain your father's title of ' Colonel Hamilton ' through an 
appoiutment as aid to his Excellency.* If so, you have, of coui'se, only to intimate 
it. I will associate you with two respectable men here, and you will incur no ex- 
pense or trouble of any kind, not for the present at least. I would not write to 
Lewis. Let them worry and fret and intrigue at Washington. Six weeks hence 
they will find themselves as wise as they were when they began. If our friend Jack- 
son wants admonishing and advising upon the point, it would in the end be better 
for me that he had erred in the beginning. If ho should come to Philadelphia, it 

* I declined. See the following letter. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 81 

miglit be your duty to pay your respects to him, considering the kind feelings he 
undoubtedly entertains for you. 

" Yours truly, etc." 

James A. Hamilton to Governor Martin Van Buren. 

" New York, December 20, 1828. 
" My Dear Sir : I received your letter and disposed of the one enclosed as you 
directed. Your offer to appoint me one of your aids, I consider a very flattering 
mnrk of your attention, and as such, I thank you for it with all my heart ; but I 
cannot allow you, my dear friend, from your disposition to gratify me, so to use this 
honor which may and ought to be disposed of with much advantage to yourself. 
You must select a gentleman in this city who is the focus of a large cii'cle of friends, 
all of whom will be devoted to you, by this honor conferred upon him. From these 
circumstances I have determined not to accept your offer, unless by doing so you 
can receive the same advantage, which is impossible from the relation all connected 
with me stand in towards you. After your letter was received, I turned the matter 
in my mind, and have hit upon the son of Brockholst Livingston as a person unit- 
ing the advantage of talents and knowledge (as I am told, for I do not know him^, 
with a large fortune. He is a single man, and has just returned from abroad. His 
father, Brockholst Livingston, was a distinguished republican in the great struggle, 
and his grandfather. Governor Livingston, was a decided Whig, and patriot of the 
Revolution. I know what you will say as to the name. By this selection, you 
would thus gratify them all together, with the Ludlows, the Carrolls, Bogerts, 
several Easton families, who are on terms of great intimacy with his sister (a very 
clever and talking woman), Mrs. Ledyard — the McVickars, Jays, and Constables, 
with very many young men, who are pleased with him and his manner of living. 
If you think well of this, I will take care that an application should be made to you 
for the place. I need not say to you, ray dear sir, that in all these matters such a 
course must be pursued, as a prudent regard to your interests may dictate ; and 
under this feeling alone, I act on this occasion. 

"Yours, etc." 



■=} 



Martin Van Bdren to James A, Hamilton. 

"Albany, December 28, 1828. 
"My Dear Sir: I have been so deeply employed in my message, «fec., that I 
have not had time to thank you for the feelings manifested in your last. There is a 
good deal in your suggestion as to the persons who would be gratified by the 
appointment of Mr. Livingston. But I know those folks well. They are a sort of 
friends of which you may have any quantity, when you don't want them ; but apt 
to be very scarce under different circumstances. It would give me more pleasure to 
learn that any act of mine had been satisfactory to the few individuals of the old 
Federal party, who have not been so far corrupted by its modern degeneracy as to 
forget the genuine talents and chivalry of your father, than to receive the thanks of 
the whole tribe of which you speak. I should, moreover, have difficulties in pre- 
ferring one who had not applied to several in the city, who have been very pressing, 
unless it was in your case. I hope, therefore, you will, upon re-consideration, allow 
6 



82 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

me the pleasure of adopting you, as tlie saying is, into my military family.* If, 

however, there are objections of any sort occurring to you, you will do me the favor 

to be candid in stating them. 

" Yours, very truly, &c." 



-■o 



BANKS AND BANKING. 

James A. Hamilton to Governor Van Buren. 

"My Dear Sir: By conversation with intelligent and well-informed persons on 
this particular subject, and by extensive reading, I have become so imbued with 
some of the leading principles which I believe ought to govern the Legislature in 
deciding upon the serious question as to the renewal of the charters of the banks of 
the State, that I cannot forbear writing to you on the subject, even in a hasty and 
negligent manner, owing, in some measure, to my want of leisure. The two great 
points to be considered are, first, a due regard to the stability of the currency of the 
country; and, second, the security of the depositors and holders of the notes of 
the banks. Contrary to first, and most usual impressions, I consider the first, really 
the most important question of tlie two, and therefore give it the first rank. Tlie 
evils to the community, great as they are, resulting from the failure of banks, are 
immeasurably less than the semi-annual panics to Avhich we are exposed by what is 
called a pressure for money, and Avhich- always results from over issues, consequently, 
over trading and endless individual bankruptcy. 

" It is as erroneous as it is common, to say that the commercial difficulties in 
England in 1825 and in this country in 1819 and 1826, and the approaching com- 
mercial difficulties, are the legitimate results of speculation. This is certainly not 
so. The truth is, tliat such a spirit is the consequence of a too great facility of 
borrowing money, induced on the part of the banks by a desire to make large profits ; 
and this results in an excessive issue of their notes and credits. The mischief of this 
error is not confined to lenders only, but it embraces all classes of the community. 
It makes the consumer buy at high prices ; it leads to extravagance, and it depreci- 
ates the value of the means of all who live upon fixed incomes, while the failures 
must necessarily produce great and extended individual distress ; it also diminishes 
the ability of the banks (as they cannot escape amid the extended ruin unharmed) 
to pay their public creditors, and thus, in a great measure, to impair the security of 
depositors and note holders. If I am correct in these views, the first question on 
the subject of the banks is— Can the Legislature, by special enactments, prevent 
these excessive issues, and thus aid in maintaining the stability of the local cur- 
rency ? I believe they cannot ; but I do believe that if incorporations are granted 
upon correct principles, that it will produce this eft'ect. You might as well endeavor 
to restrain the exportation of the precious metals of the country, as, by special 
provisions, endeavor to prevent the banks from issuing more notes than the fair 
commerce of the coiintry requires. No ! The only way to arrive at th.at great 
desideratum is, first^ to compel the banks to do what it was originally intended they 
should do, as Mr. Bronson expresses it — 'Furnish a medium of trade, and not 

* lagain declined this offer most courteously. Notwithstandiug this, he appomted me, as 
he informed me, in order to get rid of the importunities of Mr. J. L. G., of New York. He 
sent me a commission, I did not accept the place. I was Brigade Inspector during the 
latter part of the war of 1812, and thus entitled to the rank of Major. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 83 

capital.,'' that is, discount paper which originates in business transactions and not 
paper in order to originate business ; which may be cnlled accommodation- paper. 
The former is intended to be, and would, under a proper system, be paid when it 
became due. The latter is, on the contrary, intended to be a long or permanent 
loan, and is used as capital ; whereas the other facilitates the repayment of capital 
already acquii-ed and invested in purchases. And, second, to require them so to 
place their capital that it cannot be loaned, and consequently having nothing but 
credit to bank upon, they will be subjected to some of those never varying laws of 
currency, and thus be unable, without certain ruin, to go beyond a proper limit. I 
have before stated that I was in fiivor of a State Banl<, by which I mean, granting 
new, in preference to re-incorporated banks, because the latter have run into habits 
that are vicious, and wholly foreign to tvue j^rinciples ; and that it would be easier 
to commence a new system correctly, than to amend an old one, as it is easier, (I 
may be permitted, in writing to my Conimandei"-in-Chief, to make a military refer- 
ence,) to make a soldier of a raw recruit because he has only to learn his new duty, 
than it is to make one out of a militia-man, who has not only to learn what is 
correct, but to unlearn what is erroneous in his duty. But this is by no means an 
important question — whether new banks are formed or old ones renewed. The two 
great points to which I have referred must be guarded ; and I think this will be 
done elfectually by a plan Bronson has submitted to me, together with the plan you 
have referred to. 

" The capital ought, before the Bank can commence its operations, to be invested 
in the United States or State Stocks — and these securities ought to be placed beyond 
the control of the bank ; that they may be a fund in reserve, and never to be used or 
to be available for any banking operation ; and the amount of the notes to be issued 
never to exceed the amount of this fund : and, as a mean of preventing any excess, 
let it be provided that after the bank shall have given security for its notes, they 
shall be countersigned and stamped by the proper ofhcer or commissioner within 
whose control the stock is placed. (If it is objected that these securities ought not 
to be entrusted to any individual, the answer is, that there can be no difficulty in 
transferring and assigning them in such a special manner to the Register and Assis- 
tant Register, if you please, of the Court of Chancery, as would make the cooperation 
or the order of the bank necessary to the assignment.) By this provision the capital 
of the bank would be secured to the public as a fund to be applied in payment of the 
notes in circulation, and these could not at any time exceed the amount thereof. It 
would also be incapable of being loaned to dealers, and consequently not liable to be 
lost ; but above all the bank would thus be compelled to loan its credits, resulting 
from its deposits, and bills receivable, and the~e sources only — the necessary con- 
sequence of which is that the loans must be for short periods, in order that the 
stream which flows out, may be regularly and equally supplied by that which flows 
ill ; if this is not so, the efHux would soon cease— consequently, if the operations of 
the banks are confined to business paper as it is called, which is made up of tbese 
notes at short periods that have been taken for goods sold, and which are expected 
to be paid out of the re-sale of the same goods to other dealers or consumers ; tliere 
will be no greater amount of notes offered, than is required for permanent and suc- 
cessful commercial purposes. Or if the banks, being unable to loan their capital, 
should stretch their credit too far, or in other words make it too cheap, they would 
necessarily impair it ; and by the invariable course of raising the price of goods, every 



84 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

tyro ia the business well knows that tlie reaction would be ruinous : wliereas, if in 
addition to their credit as is now the case, thej could loan their capital, they can 
encourage over trading not without some, but certainly with less risk than the plan 
proposed. If instead of confining their issues to the paper which had originated in 
business transactions, they should then, as tliey now do, stimulate speculation by 
lending capital — an inevitable consequence would be that the notes would be depre- 
ciated, and consequently (without going through the whole process) specie would be 
called for which they could not pay, inasmuch as their capital does not consist in 
any pai-t of it. It is unnecessary for me to go further into the reasoning on the 
subject. It is as demonstrable that excessive issues would be thus checked at least, 
as it is clear that while the stock remained invested, the notes of the bank could all 
be paid. 

"In addition to this provision, which would tend to preserve the stability of the 
currency and to secure the pnyment of the notes of the bank, 1 would superadd a 
Provision — 

" 2dly, That a commissioner should be appointed by elestors chosen by the banks, 
an elector to every $400,000 of stock, and one to each bank whose ca[)ital should be 
less than that amount ; whose duty it should be to require for each bank I of one per 
cent, on its capital to form a fund to be invested as before, in order to make good 
any deficiency, should any arise, after applying all the credits of tlie bank and all its 
stock to the amount of its deposits and notes ; and further to require from each bank 
a monthly return of its notes in circulation. Such commissioner or supervisor to 
keep a vigilant eye to the state of the exchanges; of the exports, and imports of the 
country ; and to tlie general ranges of the prices of commodities, and to notify to the 
banks any indication of an over-issue of paper — such commissioner or supervisor 
not to have any interest or concern directly or indirectly in trade or commerce of 
any kind— to hold his office during tlie pleasure of the banks, and to be paid his 
■salary out of the income arising from the contributed fui;d, and the residue of such 
income to be paid over punctually to the contributors in ]Droportion to their respec- 
tive interests therein. 

" PrIXCIPLES deemed INDI8PEXSABI.E IS A REFORMED SYSTEM OF BANKIS^G. 

•"1st. The aggregate amount of bank credit which can be sustained in circulation 
without depreciation, whether i-sued from one bank or one thousand banks, can 
never exceed tlie amount of the circulating medium which the laws of commerce 
:assign to the country; or more than there would be in gold and silver if there were 
no banks; although that amount will be difi:erent at difl;erent times, since it must be 
regulated by the exigencies of the country, and the state of its exchange with other 
countries. 

" 2d. A banker who employs capital, will be enabled to lend more money than 
one who employs none; but not more credit, therefore he derives no profit on his 
"Capital, for in this, as in all other concerns, the interest on the capital is to be charged 
in the profit and loss account, and as the banker can receive no greater interest 
where he loans it than he charges for its use, it is evident he must be a loser on that 
operatiin, as the expenses and losses attending the loan of capital, must be deducted 
from the profits he makes on the use of his credit ; and that credit he can circulate 
as extensively if his capital is vested in stock or bonds and mortgages, as he could do 
if he employed his capital in the same manner as he does his credit. Besides, if the 
•capital is kept in a condition to be at all times available in the current business of 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 85 

the banker, large portions of it must be occasionally unemployed, and of course un- 
productive, and when that is the case, lie is tempted to lend it ou doubtful security, 
rather than let it remain idle. 

" 3c], Tliere need be no other funds employed in banking operations than those 
created by bank credit, the aggregate amount of which, as before stated, ought never 
to exceed the amount required for a circulating medium ; and this supply should be 
steady and uniform, that is, always in proportion to the natural requirements of 
commerce, and that amount will be indicated by those immutable laws, which alike 
regulate both commerce and currency ; and which so limit the quantity independently 
of legislative injunctions, that banks conducted on this principle, can never force 
any considerable excess into circulation, without producing a reaction whicb would 
soon exhaust their specie and check their issues, before that excess could materially 
enhance the exchangeable value of commodities. 

"4th. The legitimate business of bankers, strictly speaking, is the employment of 
the funds produced by their credit in discounting notes and bills of exchange which 
have been created in the course of business, and which have but a short time to 
run. It requires no capital to discount all paper of this description, as the payment 
of every note furnishes funds to discount others of equal amount. 

"5th. The fluctuations in the price of commodities, when excessive, are generally 
owing, not to a demand for consumption, but to the effect produced by one speculator 
bidding upon another which creates an artificial price, and its deviation from that 
which is natural (depending on supply and demand for consumption) is in proportion 
to the amount of capital which banks can furnish for such objects, and when a reac- 
tion ensues, as it always does wlien loans are excessive, those who were bidding 
upon each other when the banks were extending, are now compelled, by underbidding 
each other, to reconvert their commodities into money at such reduced prices as to 
cause innumerable failures, which, if banks were restricted to credit only, would sel- 
dom happen. 

" 6th. No loans of capital are ao injui'ious in their consequences, as those temporary 
accommodation loans made by banks ; their first effect is, by creating a competition 
amongst buyers, to raise the exchangeable value of commodities too high for the 
foreign markets, and a consequent demand on the banks is produced, for specie to 
export in their place. The next is such a retrenchment of loans, and reduction of 
price, as will send commodities abroad and bring back money ; and those w'ho sup- 
posed themselves enriched by the rise of property, now find that they are impover- 
ished or ruined by its fall ; and all the property obtained from individuals, on the 
private credit of those who fail, passes into the hands of their endoi-sers, to secure 
the banks against any participation in the losses sustained by their debtors, and 
which losses their own operations have rendered inevitable. The possession of capital, 
and the necessity of employing it to make a dividend, sets all tlie banks simultane- 
ously striving to see who can lend the most money and make the greatest dividend; 
until the drafts for the coin for exportation create an alarm, the strife in curtailing 
becomes as great as it had been before in extending their loans ; those fluctuations, 
though not so regular, become quite as certain as the rise and fall of the tides, and 
are obviously the eftect of banking capital employed in loans of this pernicious 
character. 

" 7th. The monied capital of tlie country would be better employed to aid pro- 
duction, than in creating artificinl prices of the commodities produced. Loans of 



86 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

bank capital are easily obtained \Vliea they are not wanted, but not ensily repaid 
"wben tbey are, — as those who have ventured into deep speculations so uncertain, both 
in tlitir amount and duration, have too often experienced. 

" 8th. It is the medium of trade, and not tlie capital necessary for carrying it on, 
which it is the proper functions of the banks to furnish. When the reqnisife amount 
of bank notes have been issued from such medium, the diminution or increase of 
discounts can have but little influence upon its quantity, except for sliort periods. 
If the discounts increase, there must be a correspondent increase of payments, and 
vice versa, and botli may happen without having any sensible effect upon prices or 
upon the amount of money in circulation. Yet such an effect on both may be pro- 
duced to any desirable extent by withhdlding loans and requiring payments, or by 
lending more and requiring less. When, and to wliat extent the exerci-e of this 
power becomes necessary, every experienced banker will know by attending to the 
state of the foreign exchanges, and the operations of commerce; and tlie perfection 
of his skill consists in so conducting his business, as never to have occasion to exer- 
cise the power to correct an evil of his own creating. 

" If the foregoing propositions are true, — and it is believed that they are, — then it 
must be admitted that the employment of capital in banking operations adds nothing 
to the profit of the banker, while it has such an influence in raising a'ld depressing 
the value of commodities so much above and beloic their natural or exchangeable 
value, (by which is meant that value which the relation between the supply and the 
demand for consumption always imparts) as to occasion most of tlie faihires which 
occur amongst men in trade ; and which would seldom happen if the banking capital 
was safely and permanently vested in some productive funds, and the credit of the 
banks onl}'' employed in advancing in anticipation and in receiving at maturity the 
money for all goods made payable at short periods which may be offered at dis- 
count. Hence it follows that perfect security may be j^rovided against the failure 
of raonied corporations, without lessening their profits or their utility, by requiring 
their capital to be paid in full, and to bo permanently loaned on mortgaged security 
or vested in stock, prohibiting by proper penalties the employment of any part df it 
in banking operations, and limiting the issue of credit to the amount of capital ; by 
which simple process the object of all these complicated restrictions and penalties 
now provided by law, will be fully attained ; everything else may be safely left to 
the discretion of the directors, — the condition of their 'being will necessarily pre- 
scribe the nature and limits of their operations, secure better dividends to the stock- 
holders, and perfect security to the public, while any operations, if attempted, 
incompatible with the interest of the stockholders or thepw6?/c good, will be ren- 
dered powerless." 



CHAPTER V. 

FEOM JANUARY 1829— APRIL 1829. 

Election of General Jackson to the Presidency — Formation of tlie Cabinet— Extract 
from letters— Gov. Van Buren Secretary of State— James A. Hamilton Secretary 
pro tern. — Letters from Mr. Van Bureu to Major Eaton and to James A. Ham- 
ilton — The Evening Post and political affairs— The foreign appointments — Ap- 
plications for appointment to office — President Jackson's inaugural address — 
Memoranda on foreign affairs by Henry Clay — John Quincy Adams and Alex- 
ander Hamilton — Convention with Great Britain— Piracies — Depredations by 
inhabitants of New Brunswick — Treaty with Mexico — Social and political com- 
plications—Letters from Mr. Gallatin— Correspondence with William Coleman 
— The Minister to France — How Mr. Eives was a[)pointed — Excitement on 
removal. 

TuE election of General Jackson was an event in our country of vast im- 
portance, because it violated a course of public policy which received the 
sanction of the wisest men of the country of all parties, from the adoption of 
the Constitution. He was elected only because he had been a successful soldier, 
not having that familiar acquaintance with public affairs which can alone form 
a statesman ; whereas, during the previous Presidential terms (40 years), states- 
men had been elected and charged with the administration of our affairs. 
More than this, he was wholly uneducated and without talent ; his intentions 
were upright, his integrity unquestionable, his will unyielding, and his devotion 
to his friends so great as to induce him to use the patronage of his office to 
reward their services. The number of his removals were estimated by Parton 
at two thousand, and by another writer at sis thousand ; whereas, it has been 
ascertained that during the previous forty years, the removals did not exceed 
seventy-three. More than one half of those were made by Mr, Jeifersou, who 
said of officials, " few died and none resigned." 

The following extracts from letters addressed to me, prove that there was an 
ailxiety in regard to the course of the President in the formation of his Cabi- 
net, and otherwise, which required the presence in Washington at that period 
of a discreet friend. What reasons the authors of these letters had for assum- 
ing that the writer could influence or direct the chief in that important work, 
or any other in which the public interest was concerned, it is difficult to 
understand. 



88 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

C. C. CAMBRELiNa, House of Representatives, to James A. Hamilton. 

" January 2, 1829. 
"I have only a moment to ask you at what time vre shall expect you here. The 
Cabinet business has been going on here some time back." 

The Same to the Same. 

"January IT, 1829. 
"If I had the matter to arrange myself, as matters now stand, I would say: 
No. 1, New York ; No. 2, Lancaster ; No. 3, Delaware ; No. 4, Ohio; No. 5, Vir- 
ginia. The General will stay at Gadsby's. You had better order lodgings early. 

"Yours, &c." 

R. BuNNER TO Hamilton. 

"House of Eepkesentatiyes, January 14, 1829. 
" There is a little doubt in my mind that Van Buren can choose his position here, 
though nothing is certainly known. It seems to be conceded he may, and the Vice- 
President (Calhoun) is compelled to make Dutf Green publish the Magician as one of 
Mr. Calliouu's friends whom he wishes to bring into the Cabinet. Tazewell retires, 
I believe, on his credit, with White, and certainly I think he will stand agood chance 
of being called to aid the old General. I should like to see Louis McLane at the 
head of the Treasury. He is a true friend to Van Buren ; will sustain him and give 
him very salutary aid on many matters in which he is probably not familiar, &c. I 
will inquire about lodgings. Do you want accommodation for yourself or your 
family ? Let me know." 

BuNNER TO Hamilton. 

" January 21, 1829. 

"I will defer answering your letter until I have more maturely considered its 
contents. I presume you intend that I may consult McLane and Verplanck, without 
committing either you or any other person. I shall not, however, do even that 
until you license me so to do. Ingham, I think, from all I can hear is devoted 
to the Vice. Tazewell is mysterious, 

"It is understood here that the Vice is desirous of making Tazewell a constituent 
member. The Ohio man will be pushed by the "West and by the Vice, who relies 
upon him. * * * I think you ought to be here and secure a room with us. The 
old mess is at the old house, and by being in the house you may obtain information 
which you perhaps can get nowhere else, and in no other way. It would not be 
amiss if you should precede the General's arrival. I concur with you about the 
banks ; as a project, with the views you mention, it is unobjectionable." * * * 

BuNNER TO Hamilton. 

" January 22, 1829. 
" I have reflected on your last letter, and do not altogether concur in opinion with 
you. Our difference is merely that you think it necessary to provide for harmony 
by previous arrangement, while I think it must be done by subsequent manage- 
ment." * * * "Shall I take lodgings for you here? You ought to be in Wash- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 89 

ington before the 15tL. Much may be learned by you before the General's arrival. 
I tijiuk your presence indispensable." 

BuNNER TO Hamilton. 

"February 1, 1829. 
" !My Deae Hamilton : Contrary to all expectations. General Jackson -will be 
here on Sunday next. You ought to be here, neglecting all other business, as soon 
as possible. Everything that I can hear from Wright is as fovorable as you could 
wisli. He is cautions, but as far as his opinion can be a test of its intentions, it is 
decidedly with the Governor. Come at once." 

BuNNER TO Hamilton. 

"February 2, 1829. 

"My Dear Hamilton: I spoke to Mrs. Peyton, and she says you can be 
accommodated with a room, and certainly our mess will be glad to receive you. It 
is small, consisting of Kane, Ver Planck, Tazewell, Dickinson and myself. How- 
ever I will get their formal allowance to-day. 

" If you do not hear from me, conclude it granted. The Judge (White) of Ten- 
nessee, urged me to write to you the letter of last night which I forgot to note. I 
presume he thinks with me, that you should be on the spot earlier than you intended. 
I have not yet seen McLean. I can conjectui'e nothing further on the important 
subject of New York, which engrosses all interest here at present." 

Martin Van Burex to James A. Hamilton. 

" Albany, February 1, 1829. 
" My Dear Sir : When do you go to Washington ? I have a letter from my 
friend Major Hamilton, which I should like to send to you if there is time." 

These letters were amusing to me at the time, particularly, because I well 
knew that two points were settled — first, Van Buren was to be Secretary of 
State. 

When I parted from the General in 1828, he balanced between him and 
Clinton. The death of the latter removed all doubts, and I had been informed 
by the General that he intended to make Eaton Secretary of War, becau,se he 
felt it was necessary for him to have in his Cabinet one old friend upon whom 
he could always rely, and who well knew him. 

The importance of my being in Washington, appeared to me to be ground- 
less, or at all events, very much exaggerated. 

The following statement taken from notes made in writing, at the time, by 
the writer, as to the President's course as long as I was with him, may be relied 
upon as strictly accurate. No man could have served another more faithfully 
or disinterestedly, than I did General Jackson : 

" General Jackson, to avoid the ceremonial of a public reception, made a forced 
march, and was in the City of Washington, on February 12th, 1829. Ic was my good 
fortune to arrive the same day. When I called upon him in the evening, I was 



90 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

flattered by being received with open arms. He spoke of the death of his wife with 
deep feeling, and said, ' Colonel, you knew her well and respected her.' I replied, 
taking his hand, ' I did more than that ; I had a sincere regard for her ; and now 
consider her absence as a calamity.' He said, ' I am glad you are here ; you must give 
me all of your time ; you have all my confidence. When have you heard from Mr. 
Van Buren? ' I answered, that I had visited him last month, in Albany. 

" He immediately opened the subject of the Cabinet by saying, ' It is not neces- 
sary to make a selection from Virginia. Slie has had many Presidents and Secre- 
taries. The Virginians are a high-minded people and do not seek office. Virginia 
has now the Secretary of "War, and as it would not be decorous to deprive her of it, 
I will put Tazewell in the place of Barbour.' I intimated my approbation of this 
course, and that it would be well, in order to soothe disappointed feelings, to let 
that be intimated to Tazewell, which the General said he would do. 

" The General during the evening requested me to write to Van Buren, to say a 
letter would be written to him otfering him the place of Secretary of State. The 
next morning the General asked me if I had written as I had been requested to do. 
I replied, I had, and on Sunday following I was told by the General, that a letter had 
been written to Van Buren oftering him the State Department, and I was requested 
to write to him to urge him to come on without delay. I was repeatedly asked 
afterward by the General whether 1 believed lie would accept (this was when the 
deliberations were held in regard to tlie other departments, of which I propose to 
speak hereafter). 

" It had been said that Tazewell would not take a place ; that he had declared, 
' Having been elected a Senator, I would as soon think of taking a place under 
George IV., if I was sent a minister to his court, as I would to take a place in the 
Cabinet.' It was, however, intimated that he would go to London. I was in the 
house and mess with Tazewell ; I knew him well, very well. "When he was a Com- 
missioner under the Florida Treaty, and I was an agent of claims, we were for 
months together in the same house and mess. One afternoon we made a bet of 
wine in regard to the price of English stocks. I remarked after the bet was noted 
down, Mr. Bunner being present, ' "We would drink it in London.' It took him by 
surprise, and changing countenance, lie rose up, recovered himself, and said, ' You 
may drink it there, I cannot.' I thought this was all pretense, and that his lan- 
guage imported less than his looks, and intimated to my friend Mr. Bunner, in the 
course of the evening, to leave us alone. He did so; and I sat up with Tazewell 
late in the evening. In the course of our conversation, I told him what I had hoard, 
to wit: ' That he would not take a place in the Cabinet, but was willing to go to 
England,' ])refacing this with the declaration that it was 'due to frankness to inform 
him of what was said ; not that I wanted to draw an answer from him.' lie 
replied, ' I have no hesitation ; that as to the first, it is true, as to the hitter, no 
person was authorized to say so.' He then gave his reasons why he would not take 
a place in the Cabinet, which were ' That, having been just now elected a Senator, 
it would not be treating the people of Virginia well to abandon them ; tliat he could 
not do so ; besides he had a family, and would not bring them up in "^'ashington 
for any consideration whatever.' I merely added, in order to bring him out on the 
other point, that ' I had hoped it was true that he had said he would go to 
England.' This produced no reply. 

" I afterward told the President elect, that as to a department, he could have no 
difficulty as to Tazewell. He said lie had had a conversation with him, and told him 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 01 

■what his intentions were in regard to England, and why he could not appoint him 
to a department. 

" Tazewell undoubtedly expected and desired to get the State Department. The 
editorial articles in the Richmond, Enquirer are fall to that point. Calhoun wished 
it, and T.izewell was greatly dissatisfied with the Cabinet. His conversations with 
Louis McLane and others were very full, and very indiscreet ; after all, however, 
when he was distinctly offered the mission to England, he accepted it, and con- 
ferred with me more than once on the subject of his going, and of the Secretary of 
Legation. He also talked with Mr. Berrian, (who was appointed Attorney-General, 
being well understood, as was Tazewell, to be a Calhoun man,) on the subject, and 
notwitlistanding all this, a paragraph appeared in a Norfolk paper (Mr. Tazewell's 
place of residence) declaring that Tazewell would not go abroad, giving the reasons ; 
and, as I understood, (I did not see the article) that he Avould not take a place less 
than one in the Cabinet." 

" March 11. 

" Tazewell about 2 o'clock sent a letter to the President stating that letters from 
Norfolk giving information of domestic affairs, had rendered it necessary for him 
to say he could not accept the Mission, and as the interests of the country required 
a Minister to be sent immediately, he must be considered as out of view." 

This statement, taken from my journal, shows some of the difficulties we had 
to encounter. The truth is — and that was well understood by General Jack- 
son — that Calhoun and his friends made a desperate effort to induce the Presi- 
dent to employ such men in his cabinet as would give them control of the 
Government. The game was Tazewell, Secretary of State ; Ingham, Treasury; / 
Berrian, Attorney-General, and John McLean, Secretary of War. The journal/ 
proceeds : 

"T called upon the President on the evening of 11th March, he talked with 
me of Tazewell's letter, and desired me to call upon him early the next morning, 
when he would show me the letter; that I must come before breakfast, and come 
to his bedroom if he was not up." 

"March 12th. 

" I called at eight o'clock ; the President came to me ; showed me the letter. I 
advised liira to send for Tazesvell and urge him by every consideration, public as well 
as personal, to accept the appointment, and I impressed upon him tiie necessity of in- 
sisting upon Tazewell's giving him the reason for his not going ; which I believed was 
his unwillingness to be connected with this Cabinet (the Cabinet was then formed). 
The President wrote a note to Tazewell, -who called upon him. The President, after 
Tazewell hid left him, sent for me, and told me what the conversation was. The rea- 
sons Tazewell gave for declining were entirely of a private or domestic character. The 
President, however, desired him not to decide on refusing, but to take the matter into 
consideration, and see if he could not arrange his atfiiirs so as to enable him to go 
abroad ; and so tlie President considered the matter as remaining. Tazewell, how- 
ever, told McLane that he had given his final answer in the negative. That he was 
not pleased with the manner in which the President had urged it; that he had 
looked him through and through^ and had told him that ' he must go.' Had given him 
a military order, but that he considered the matter at rest. 



92 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

" I must go back. Van Buren, in reply to the letter oflfering him the place of 
Secretary of State, accepted ; provided he could remain at Albany until April, when 
the Legislature would adjourn, as it would not be proper for liim to resign his place 
of Governor until after the rising of the Legislature. "When that letter was read to 
Jackson, he hesitated as to the answer ; and after a short time, said to me, ' Colonel, 
I will consent to his remaining away, if you will undertake to perform the duties of 
the department until he comes.' I replied, ' General, I cannot consent to that 
arrangement, because I well know I am incompetent to perform the duties of the 
place.' lie replied, briskly, ' That is my affair ; I know you can perform the duties 
as well as any other. If you consent, prepare a paper for me to sign, appointing you 
to perform the duties of Secretary of State until Mr. Van Buren shall come here and 
assume the duties.' This matter was so arranged, and I wrote to Van Buren, telling 
him the President had agreed that he should remain in Albany as long as his duties 
required him to do so." 

Martin Van Buken to James A. Hamilton. 

"February 2, 1829. 

" Mt Dear Hamilton : I enclose you a letter to the General, which explains all 
that I would otherwise write. You will exercise your discretion as to delivering it 
open or sealed. If the arrangement I propose succeeds, or, whether it does or not, 
there cannot be a doubt of our ability to serve you in proportion to our desires. I have 
no time to add another word. I hope Eaton has shown you my letter to him. I had 
not iieard or thought of Messrs. Branch and Eaton as members of the Cabinet, and but 
slightly of Mr. Berrian. I have, as you know, accepted the General's invitation, and 
shall stand my liand. I am anxious that McLane and Major-General Hamilton (of 
South Carolina), should understand all my views ; but not to make them a subject of 
remark. Hamilton and myself only differed in this, that I wished McLane for the 
Treasury and Cheves for the Navy. But, if the matter is settled otherwise, you and 
he will see tlie vital importance of my not saying a word upon the point, or in relation 
to events which I could not have foreseen, and cannot avoid. See Hamilton and give 
him this information. Tell him, I have received his letter, and sincerely thank him 
for if, and that I will write him soon; but I have scarcely time to turn round, and 
anything I might say now would come too late. But, excuse me for again pressing 
the importance of not using my name in a manner which could only serve to excite 
prejudices that might do a dis-service to the public, and all other interests, without 



doing good. Wi-ite me often. 



" Yours truly, 



Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" Albany, February 15, 1829. 

"My Dear Sir : Enclosed, you have a letter from Major Eaton to me and a copy 
of my reply. You will judge by the condition of things when they arrive whether 
it will be best to deliver the letter or not. If the Cabinet arrangements are made 
when my letter is received, it will for many reasons be desirable that my inattention 
to the Major's letter, should be attributed to the same cause with his negligence in 
not sending it to rae before. His query in relation to myself, was not much better 
considered than the letter of Major L., on the subject to which you replied for me. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 93 

You will, of course, not let the Major know that you are advised of anythin"- except 
what you are requested to say in the note that covers his. Write me. 

" Yery truly yours." 

The following are copies of the letters " enclosed." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

"February 15, 1829. 
"ITt Dear Sir: I wish you would hand the enclosed to Major Eaton. It is 
quite confidential, and I wish you to say to him that, contrary to my nature, I have 
sent it in the handwriting of my son, from a consciousness of his (M. E.'s) habitual 
carelessness about his letters, and an apprehension that it might (as heretofore in 
other cases) find its way into one of the Committee rooms folded up in a petition in 
behalf of some good fellow, who has no friend except the Major; who, to his credit 
be it said, is a friend to the friendless. 

" In haste, very cordially yours." 

Martin Van Buren to Major Eaton. 

" Dear Sir : Your questions are of great delicacy, and I shall confidently expect 
that what I say in reply to tliem shall be known to lut one i^erson besides yourself. 
It is of vital importance to have a decided majority in the quarter to which you 
allude ; but, it is not, under the circumstances, as material how large that majority 
is. It will be constantly gaining, and with good treatment may be made efiicient for 
every desirable purpose. You have a few new men, and the old are apt to degenerate 
or improve from circumstances of every day's occurrence. What may be the state 
of things in that respect, you, being on the spot, can better judge than myself If 
you have twenty-five or twenty-six good men and true, I should think matters would 
be safe enough. 

"You want, for the other concern, practical, intelligent and efficient men, who 
are conversant with the aftaiis of the nation, and in whom the people have confi- 
dence — men whose capacities are adapted to the discharge of the public business, 
whether they might, or might not, shine in the composition of essays on abstract 
and abstruse subjects. Both the gentlemen to whom you refer are of that char- 
acter; the one to whose recent speech you allude is eminently so. From my know- 
ledge of his industry, intelligence and energy, and also the good feeling that every- 
where exists toward him — together with some peculiarities in his political condition, 
I cannot but regard the selection of him fur some difiicult and responsible stntion as 
a great desideratum. He is one of the most practical, common-sense men in the 
nation. With respect to the other gentleman to whom you refer and who is not of 
that Body, I feel great delicacy in speaking. He has had to pass through very deli- 
cate and trying scenes. There was a time when it was probable that he would be 
so tied down to his present situation by circumstances, as to put it out of his power 
to leave it, whatever his personal wishes might be ; but by good fortune he has, it is 
believed, escaped such entanglement, and is at perfect liberty to pursue his own 
wishes in the premises, provided their gratification has for its object the public good. 
No one has authority to say that he will not consent to change his situation, if that 
can be done under such circumstances as will satisfy him of the probability that he 
can be more useful than in his present station." 



94 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" Albany, February 21, 1829. 

" My Dear Sir : I have written a long letter to Eaton, whicli I have authorized 
him to s^how to General Jackson, Judge White and yourself. Let McLane know its 
contents. I have also referred to yon in my letter to the General. I am very de- 
sirous to have you with me in tlie capacity of which we have spoken. There is 
nothing in the past to prevent it, and the future is full of hope. The only question 
is, as to the best mode of getting rid of the present incumbent. It would be desir- 
able to provide some other place for him if jn-acticable, and then, again, is it, or is 
it not necessary to keep him for some time to get the affairs into successful operation. 
So far from McLane's letter being an objection to your taking it, it furnishes an argu- 
ment in its favor, inasmuch as it enables us to place the other gentleman's resignation 
upon some better ground than that of personal objections. The fact that I would not, 
under any circumstances, have appointed him even if you had solicited it, is of control- 
ling influence. Conld you stay until I come down ? I have really no time to enlarge, 
as yon may well suppose. Let me hear from you fully upon all these matters. / 
hope the General icill not find it necessary to avoic any opinion vpon Constitutional 
questions at war tcith the doctrines of the Jefferson School. Whatever his views may 
be, there can be no necessity of doing so in an inaugural address. Remember me 
affectionately to Judge White and Mr. Tazewell. I have, in a letter of to-day, to 
Mr. Eaton, again touched upon the subject of the Treasury Department. Yours 
truly, &c." 

Coleman of the Evening Post, in a letter addressed to me at "Washington, 
dated New York, February 19, 1829, says : 

"You have, I believe, the ears of Jackson more than any other individual; and 
why do you not avail yourself of the great opportunity it gives you not merely for 
your own gratification, but to promote indirectly his views by a judicious circulation 
of them, by means of the press, accompanied by popular recommendations or defence 
when defence may be deemed expedient? " 

Such was the anxiety of this veteran Editor to have the reputation of be- 
ing in advance of his contemporaries of the press, as to give such advice. 

In a letter dated February 23, 1829, which is certainly of much more in- 
terest, he says : 

" What you tell me respecting Adams' assertions, or information respecting your 
Father's opinion of the purchase of Louisiana, not a little surprises me ; for it so 
happens that that opinion was, after repeated conversations with me, comniitted to 
writing in my own phraseology, indeed, for the purpose of publication in the Evening 
Post ; and so desirous was he of having his ideas on this important measure of gov- 
ernment expressed with the greatest precision, neither restricted nor extended in any 
degree, that being informed at what time the proof sheets would be roady for inspec- 
tion, ho came to the office and examined it after it had been corrected and was all 
ready to go to press, and having with great deliberation carefully perused the whole, 
declared it contained the identical idea he had wished to express on the subject. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 95 

" That article I have not seen for some years, but a little research -will discover it 
when I again go down to my office. 

" But this is not all I have to say as respects your Father, in connection with this 
subject. Mr. Bronson" (the distinguisljed Banker, Isaac Bronsoit), " lately told nie 
that some years since he happened to dine at the same table with John Adams, the 
father, and John Quincy Adams, the son, at which the subject of a dissolution of 
the Union was introduced and discussed ; and on that occasion Mr. Bronson distinct- 
ly remembers that John Q. Adams said, that a certain Federal gentleman of much 
consideration in the party (naming him — it is believed that gentleman was Gouver- 
neur Morris), entertained an opinion that it would be conducive to the prosperity of 
New England, to dissolve all political connection with the Southern States; and that 
some others of his friends held the same opinions, but that he must do Hamilton the 
justice to say, that he did not coincide with them. 

" It is in my power to state facts and circumstances not less strong and conclusive, 
as to your father's settled and decisive opinion respecting every thing that had the 
remotest tendency to the dissolution of the Union. 

"Oq a little reflection I cannot possibly believe Adams will venture on so bold a 
thing, as you have been led to suppose. It would bring him and his name beneath 
a torrent of everlasting infamy. I cannot believe it until I see it," 

Martin Van Buren to James A. IIamiltox. 

" Albany, February, 1829. 
"My Dear Sir : The several letters which I have written to the President through 
you, explain most things of which I would otherwise speak in this. Any mode in 
which you may think the business of the Department can be best attended to, 
whether that which is stated in your letter of the 25th, or the one suggested by me, 
will be alike agreeable. I have received a letter from Mr. Gulian Yerplanck to-day, in 
which he informs me that it is understood to be the intention of the President, to 
send Mr. Moore of Kentucky, to Mexico, but that it is feared that his nomination 
and departure will be delayed by my absence, and that such delay would be embar- 
rassing to Mr. Moore. If this is so, it is proper that I should say, that I know of 
few men who have stronger claims upon the interest that is now happily ascendant 
than Moore, and that my respect for his talents is equal to my conviction of his high 
merits in other respects. As he goes out to relieve Mr. Poinsett, I am not apprized 
that any particular instructions, other than such as may without prejudice to the 
public interest be sent after him, will be necessary. Should the case be otherwise, 
you will have no difficulty in causing them to be prepared. You should not suffer 
the imputations of Mr. Adams to afflict you. Certainly not for the present, for the 
declaration of an old gentleman acknowledging himsoii partice}}S criminis that a 
nameless somebody told him that your father agreed to attend a convention, cannot, 
with just minds, be regarded as sufficient to impair his patriotism. Write me direct- 
ed to N'ew York, to the care of Campbell. Make my best respects to the President, 
and believe me to be, 

" Yery truly yours, &c." 



96 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Buren. 

"Washington, Feb. 29, 1829. 

" My Dear Sir : Your letter to General Jackson was received by him to-day. 
After I bad read it, he desired me in answer to say that although be regretted your 
absence for so long a time as you would be detained, be acquiesced in it as necessary. 
He added that as you had referred him to Mr. Hamilton, the duties of your place 
would devolve on him ; and expressed a hope I would remain here to perform them 
until your arrival, which I unhesitatingly consented to do. He then told me that 
there were several appointments in regard to which be would require my opinion ; 
and that I should confer with the Attorney-General, particularly as to the ap- 
pointment of a minister to the Netherlands. I presume from w^bat he stated that 
the question first to be decided will be whether it is necessary to have a minister 
plenipotentiary sent to tbat coui't; fm(i second, whether Mr. Hughes should be the 
person or not. The first must be decided by a due consideration of the importance 
of the decision, and by tbe fact intimated to me, that the King of the Netherlands 
had requested tbe appointment of a minister of equal grade with tbe one represent- 
ing liim here. I am of opinion that unless some i)lau of commissioners can be 
devised, that a full minister should be sent ; but that Hughes is not ' large ' enough 
for the place. The selection should be made from Maine, if a fit person can be 
found there. What is to be said of Judge Preeble ? In that event Hughes might 
be transferred, and where ? 

" Might it not be expedient to send commissioners, giving them the rank of 
ministers extraordinary, and tbe pay of those of the second rank ? and let Hughes 
and Preeble be appointed. Col. Humphries was sent to Portugal with tbe style and 
rank of Minister Resident, with the pay of Charge. However, I infer from Wash- 
ington's message that this was an arrangement between the Government and 
Humphries. He says : (Executive Journal, vol. 1, page 74) ' I do not mean tbat 
the change of grade shall render the mission more expensive.' By the same journal, 
pp. 95 to 99, it appears that Carmicbael, Charge at Madrid, and Short, Charge at 
Paris, were appointed Commissioners Plenipotentiary for negotiating and concluding a 
Treaty with Spain, concerning the navigation of the Mississippi. The question now 
arises whether they received the pay of Charges or of Ministers Plenipotentiary. Do 
me the favor on receipt of this to reply to it, tbat I may receive your views by the 
5th of March. 

" As I fully concur with you as to the course you intend to pursue in regard to 
resigning ; and as tbe public business, after the Senate adjourns, may be so pressing 
as to suffer by your absence, I would take all my steps with even more deliberation 
than would be strictly called for by a regard to your dignity and that of the state. 
The General will address a letter to me, stating your acceptance, your necessary 
detention, and desiring me to take charge of the department until you arrive 
here. 

" Your last letter to Eaton came too late (the first I did not deliver) to produce any 
change ; it is, however, proper as tbe record of your views, and may be of great 
service hereafter. I regret that you should have enjoined so strict a silence in 
regard to its contents. However, as you may remove the injunction of secrecy bye 
and bye, it will be the same thing. 

"Efforts are now being made to induce McLean (P. M. G.) to remain where he is. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 97 

They -vvill, I believe, be unsuccessful, to the great mortification of tlie General ; equal 
joy of Calhoun & Co., and tlie deep disappointment of Eaton. It is also, by some, 
hoped that Ingham may decline the Treasury, go into the P. O., and that McLane, 
of Delaware, may go to the Treasury. To induce this move, your letter will have 
much effect. 

"I thank you for your kind and complimentary reference to me in your two 
letters. 

^ ' . ^-^ Adieu, yours, (fee, &c." 

In the course of tlie important business of forming a cabinet, I was remind- 
ed of the fact that General Washington, when he was making his selections, 
inquired of Financier Morris, who was the most proper person to be appointed 
to the Treasury. He replied, Hamilton. Jefferson was selected for the State 
Department more particularly from his having been a foreign minister ; and 
General Gates for the War Department, because as an experienced officer he 
was well acquainted with military affairs. , 

In this important work by President Jackson, no thought appeared to 
be given as to the fitness of the persons for their places. I am sure I never 
heard one word in relation thereto, and I certainly had repeated conversations with 
him in regard to these appointments. Indeed, Van Buren, in his letters on the 
subject, never made a suggestion of that kind. His letter to me in relation to 
the President's Inaugural Address, manifested his anxiety that " the General 
will not find it necessary to avow any opinion upon constitutional questions at 
war with the doctrines of the Jefferson school." 

Mr. Van Buren was certainly not eminently fitted for the State Depart- 
ment, by his knowledge of public affairs, by his education, which was very 
limited, or his intellectual endowments. In the preparation of his first report 
as secretary, he required a friend to revise and correct that document. Indeed 
all his public papers required the assistance of a friend, and to that end he 
induced Mr. B. F. Butler to go to Washington and to remain there. 

Webster told the writer that Van Buren's dealings with the questions of 
impressment, and on the boundary line, impaired the rights of the United 
States. 

Eaton was made Secretary of War alone, because the General, as he said, 
must have one man about him in whom he had entire confidence. It is believed 
that Eaton wrote a history of the General's military life. 

Branch was selected because of personal relations. He had no capacity to 
direct the affairs of the Navy; and Barry those of the Post-oflice, in obedience 
to the wishes of the Kentucky Delegation. (See the account of his pecuniary 
administration of his ofiice in a subsequent chapter.) 

Ingham came as the representative of one of the factions of Pennsylvania, 
seeking the place of Comptroller of the Treasury. Such was bis appreciation 
of his abilities. 

7 



98 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Applications for and Appointments to Office. 

The followiug letter indicates the grounds upon which applications were 
made. The writer was an inhabitant of the State of Indiana. The letter is 
addressed to James A. Hamilton : — 

" Wasuington City, January 14, 1829. 

"Deae Sir : Having had the honor of bringing to this city the electoral votes 
for President of the United States, I calculated to remain a few Aveeks for tlie arrival 
of General Jackson, hcping some of these violent Adams men now in office may 
receive their loalMng papers. I have recommendations from the Republican mem- 
bers of tlie Legislature of the State of Indiana for any office I can ask ; but, as many 
beside myself will apply, I wish to show by letters from my correspondents in tlie 
diiferent states the active part I took during the strvggle for Republicanism. Sir, 
as you received from me some letters respecting the Presidential election, will you be 
so good as to direct a letter to me at this place, on the receipt of this, stating my 
correspondence with you, and such things as you may think proper, for I think 
those who stood the heat of the battle should be first to receive of its benefits. I 
should like either the Register's office at Crawfordsville, Indiana, or the Marshal of 
the State. Tlicse offices are now held by those of the most active of the Adams 
men. Yours respectfully." 

I do not give the name of the writer of this letter, nor do I recollect any- 
thing further on the subject. 

One man founded his claims to office on the ground that he was the first 
member of the Legislature of his state who nominated General Jackson for 
President. 
V Two men of Pennsylvania were applicants for the office of Marshal. Their 
petitions were subscribed by thousands ; the object of each being to rest his 
claims to office upon the number of his petitioners. When the huge rolls 
were brought to the Department, the number of ^ names were estimated by 
.the length of the paper subscribed. 

Men came, women came, to sustain the applications of their husbands and 

other relatives. The crowd was so great, and the persistence so unreasonable, 

that an order was issued not to admit any person to the office of the Secretary 

until a late hour of the day. This was necessary to give time to perform the 

^ public duties. 

^"^^ The writer had the good fortune to save the Honorable Henry Wheaton, 
who was minister to Prussia, and Mr. Tudor, of Boston, who was, he believes, 
Charge at Buenos Ayres, from removal. 

The removal of my friend, John Duer, District- Attorney U. S., was in vain 
resisted by me. The President had been informed that he was connected with 
the American newspaper in New York, then edited by Charles King, who had 
made a most unwarrantable attack upon Mrs. Jackson. 

I was charged with having induced Mr. Duer's removal, in order to get the 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 99 

place. There was no foundation for this. I did not seek or desire that office. 
How I was appointed is distinctly and truly stated above. 

I return to my Journal as to the formation of the Cabinet. After the 
President had determined to make Eaton Secretary of War, or, rather, after 
that determination was made known, McLean, the then Post-Master-Greneral, who 
was pressed by Calhoun for the Department of the Treasury or War, was very 
anxious to change his position, among other reasons, to avoid the loss of charac- 
ter and popularity by removing persons whom he appointed when he should be 
required to do so. He urged upon the President the consideration of the pecu- 
liar delicacy in which he was placed in regard to removals, and induced the 
President to say " that if Eaton and he could agree to make an exchange he 
would assent to it." Eaton did agree to relimiuish and McLean to take the 
War Department, and the President announced his choice to Major Hamilton 
of South Carolina, and others. 

On the 25th February, Mr. Van Buren's letter of acceptance was received. 
It was a long letter written to Eaton, who was directed to show it to Jackson, 
Judge White and Hamilton. He strongly urged Louis McLane for the Treas- 
ury. I do not think this letter was shown to Jackson or White, but it was to 
Lewis and Dudley (Senator), and was then destroyed. After I had read it I re- 
marked to Eaton it was too late, that I sincerely regretted he b&d consented 
to the exchanges, and inquired if no means could be made use of to influence 
McLean to yield. I stated that I knew the General was worried about it, and 
regretted he had given his assent — that I was willing to do anything in my 
power to promote his views. He asked me if I was acquainted with the Post- 
Master-General. I said I was slightly. He then suggested that I might call 
\jpon him Avith Lewis and place the matter in so strong a light as to induce him 
to yield. I had at Lewis's request seen James Hamilton (S. C.) and urged 
him to do the same thing, which he declined, alleging that he would do nothing 
on the subject of the Cabinet as he had not been consulted about it. Here I may 
remark that Louis McLane of Delaware, by their authority, authorized me to 
say to Jackson that Hamilton (S. C), Drayton, Hayne, McDuffie and iVrcher 
had not called to talk with him on the subject of his Cabinet, from motives of 
delicacy, but that if he wished to see them they would call. I mentioned this 
to the President, and he invited them to an interview. They saw him. Hamil- 
ton (S. C.) was spokesman. He could effect nothing. Their object was the 
Treasury either for Chevis of South Carolina, or Louis McLane of Dalawarc, 
or anybody but Ingham. The President had made up his mind. I repeat, the 
choice was a very bad one. Ingham was not fitted for the situation. He had 
not one of the qualities required for that office. It was understood that he 
came to Washington in the hope of being appointed Comptroller. This was 
his appreciation of his abilities. 

I immediately went to Lewis and proposed to him to go to the Post-Mastcr- 
Gencral. He declined for good reasons. We then determined to ask Judge 



100 r.EMINISCElS^CES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

"White to see liini, who did see him and induced him to yield the place to Eaton 
and remain where he was, and the next day the Cabinet was announced in the 
Telegraph. 

February IQtth. — The General put into my hands various applications for 
office to digest and arrange, and to give my opinion, so that I am now most un- 
expectedly engaged in the business of the Department of State. I made the 
following report : 

" James A. Hamilton presents his respects to the President elect, and returns 
herewith the papers committed to him in relation to the following appointments, to 
wit: 

" A Judge of the (Supreme Court of the United States. 

"A Judge of the District Court of Louisiana. 

" A Judge of the District Court of Ohio. 

" A District Attorney for Indiana. And begs leave to say that from all the in- 
formation he has obtained on these subjects, in his oi)iiiion, the best selections would 
be as follows : 

" William T. Barry of Kentucky, Judge of tlie Supreme Court. 

" Samuel H. Harper, Judge of the District Court of Louisiana. 

" John W. Camplell, Judge of the District Court of Ohio, and 

" Samuel Judah, District Attorney f >r the State of Indiana. 

"James A. Hamilton." 

At this time the Post-Master-General was not a candidate for the office of 

Judge. The day before the nomination was to be made, Ingham, at McLean's 

instance, (ialled upon the President and told him that the Post Master General 

would like to take the office of Judge, and urged again the peculiar delicacy 

: and diffi-culty of his situation as Post-Master-General, in regard to removals. 

':The President sent for me, told me of this intimation, and asked my opinion, 

il immediately said of all things it was best, and that nothing should be left un- 

: attempted to accomplish it. He felt that he was committed to Barry's friends, 

'of the Kentucky Delegation. I answered, '• that preference was given to Barry 

before McLean was thought of." He said if the Kentucky Delegation would 

acquiesce he would make the appointment, Bibb was sent for. He acquiesced, 

and promised to see some of the gentlemen. I was requested to call early in 

the morning, which I did, before breakfast — then told the General I believed I 

had some influence with T. W. Moore — that I would see him and induce him to 

: acquiesce. I immediately went to his lodgings — conferred with him. I made 

^the following note of what occurred: 

" March G, 1829. I called upon Major T. W. Moore in relation to the appoint- 

:ment of Judge of the Supreme Court, Barry having been selected for this office 

before it was known McLean (P. M. G.) would take it. After much conversation 

Major Moore desired me to say to General Jackson, that he wished him to look over 

:the whole ground, Major Barry's qualifications, etc., and that if he should determine 

rthat it would be advantageous to his.administration, and promote the public interests 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 101 

to select the Pos'.-Master-CTeneral, he (Moore) would be answerable that there would 
be no grumbling or dissatisfaction in tlie Kentucky Delegation on the subject. 

"Mr. Moore said to me, ' I have no donbt if Major Barry was here he would with- 
draw his Irretentions in a moment,' and he further asked how the President would 
assure himself tliat McLean would not continue to be a candidate for the Presidency 
and make his official influence a means of promoting his success and thereby im- 
pairing the dignity of the office and the Court. I said in reply, ' I would advise Gen- 
eral Jackson to send for McLean, and to say lie contemplated nominating him for 
Judge, but that he had perhaps peculiar views in regard to tlie course to be pursued 
by judicial officers. That he considered them as Ministers of the Temple of Justice, 
and that as such they were necessarily separated from all party politics or feelings.' 
I communicated to the General this conversation. lie said he was pleased with the 
result, and that he would hold such a conversation Avitli McLean as I had suggested. 

" March G, 1829. 

[Signed] '"James A. Hamiltox." 



The nomination was made immediately. It came like a thunder-clap upon 
the Senate and was stunning to Calhoun, who hoped that with the Post-Master- 
General in the person of McLean (being a member of the Cabinet with Ingham), 
he could have some influence or perhaps constraint. The arrangement having been 
made, Barry was to be Post-Master-General. I called upon McLean to get his 
resignation, which was given to me, and immediately Barry's name was sent in 
for Post- Master-General. 

Shortly after the General's arrival, he requested me to come to his lodgings 
early in the morning, that he might, as he said, confer with me uninterruptedly 
before other persons should call. One morning I was Avith him, the formation 
of his Cabinet being the subject. We were together until after 9 a. m., when 
he told me Calhoun was to call at 10 o'clock. " I know what he is about. He 
cannot succeed. I wish you to remain in this house until he leaves. Then re- 
turn and you shall know all about it." I retired — Calhoun called — I remained, 
and returned to the General after Calhoun left. Jackson said, " He wishes me to 
appoint Tazewell, Secretary of State, and urged it upon me with great earnest- 
ness, dwelling much on his great knowledge and wisdom, and particularly the 
great influence this appointment would have upon Virginia — securing thus her 
support to the administration. I received what he said Arith great attention ; 
and without rejecting his advice, I asked if it would not be useful to secure 
the influence of the State of New York. By this he knew I meant to refer to 
Van Buren, Ilis reply was, New York would have been secured by Clinton if 
he had lived. It cannot be by the influence of any other of her citizens. 
However, New York is safe without an appointment." This interview, it is be- 
lieved, was the last with Calhoun on the subject of the Cabinet. 

T. W- Moore, who was appointed Minister to Columbia, wished to be Post- 
Master-Geueral, and it was determined that Barry should be sent abroad. This, 
however, was not disclosed to me until the 17th March. 



102 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

I do not know how Branch happened to be selected for the Navy. He was 
an old friend of the President's, and, having land in Tennessee, frequently visited 
him there. Pie was wholly incompetent for this or any other place in the Cabinet. 
Ingham was taken because it was deemed important to do something for Penn- 
sylvania. He came to Washington hoping to be Comptroller. A portion of 
the delegation waited upon the General and insisted if anything was to be done 
for Pennsylvania, Ingham was their choice. They were of those known as the 
" Family Party.'''' 

When attempts were made to induce the President not to appoint Eaton — 
and they were made particularly by the Tennessee Delegation, the Greneral 
rising- with outstretched arms said, "I will sink or swim with him, by God." 

In connection with my appointment as Secretary, I wrote thus to a " valued 
friend :" 

" I have this day received from the General, a letter appointing me acting Secre- 
tary of State, dated 4t.h inst. Thus I will at least have the gratification of being 
connected with the history of our Government, and have had some slight influence 
upon its affairs. What may follow is uncertain. I have not made a single move- 
ment in reference to myself." 

The following written to the same person on the subject of the Cabinet, dated 
17th Feburary, 1829, may be useful because written immediately after leaving 
the General : 

" I am most heartily sick of Washington, and not a little tired of the intrigue 
in which we all live. — I went to dine with Jackson ; at home nine o'clock p. m. 
My conversation with the General after the gentlemen retired, was perfectly free 
on the w4iole subject which now occupies his and the public attention. Nothing is 
decided beyond Van Buren for the State and Eaton for the War. The doubt seems 
to be whether Ingham or McLane of Delaware is to be Secretary of the Treasury ; 
Tazewell is out of the question for Cabinet appointment ; but will be offered the 
English Mission. I incline to think the Post-Master-General will remain where he 
is. South Carolina gets nothing. The General is clear and judicious in the views 
which will govern him in making his choice. He may, and I fear will, err in the 
choice of the person for the Treasury. Louis McLane would be a good, and Ingham 
not a good selection. If it will gratify you I will let yon know that I am looked 
upon here as quite a distinguished pei'sonage. Not, however, from any merit I have ; 
but from the belief that I am one of three who enjoy all the General's confidence. 
The Tennessee Delegation particularly are disposed to make much of me. Be assured, 
my friend, I take no credit for all this ; and to say the truth, I am more mortified than 
pleased l)y the reflection that my consequence should rest alone upon mere accident." 

February 27. — Van Buren addressed a letter of this date to Gen. Jackson 
and sent it open to me. In it he accepted the position of Secretary of State, and 
asked permission to remain at Albany until April : 

" It has been usual," he wrote " through the whole course of the Government, to 



EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 103 

place one Department temporarily under the superintendence of the head of another. 
That may, and will probably, have to be done in this case. The only difficulty may 
be, that the personal relations between Mr. Clay and the gentlemen whom you will 
select for your Cabinet, may be such as to lose the advantage of those explanations 
from the present incumbent (Mr. Clay), which it is bis duty to give, and with the 
possession of which the public interests may be materially connected ; but which in 
case of a communication with a person against whom he felt a strong personal 
dislike, lie might either withhold or give so grudgingly as to defeat the object. 
Allow me to suggest a mode by which the embarrassment upon this point may be 
in a great degree relieved." * * * " It is of vital importance that I should have for 
my under Secretary or Chief Clerk a gentleman who is not only intelligent, capable, 
and honorable, but one in whom I can repose implicit confidence. From my own 
knowledge of his character, my friend Ool. Hamilton answers fully to that character 
and is the gentleman to whom I had looked for that station. * * * Do me the 
favor to advise Mr. Hamilton what to write to me : and to arrange affairs in such 
a way as to allow me the longest time ; as I do really stand in need of it to enable 
me to come out with credit. 

" Yours affectionately, 

" M. Van Buken." 

Felruary 20. — I quote from a letter I addressed to a judicious friend as 
folio w^s : 

" "When I handed this letter to the President he read it, and asked to see me 
alone. He then said: ' You must remain here; I cannot spare you; I want j'ou 
near me. There will be no difficulty hereafter in gratifying you as you desire; but 
at present you must remain here.' I replied : ' Such is my intention. I am prepared 
to devote my whole time to promote the success of your administration when and 
wherever I can be useful to you.' He was gratified, took my hand, and said : ' You 
are my friend, and so let it remain as we have arranged it.' I then said : ' Between 
Van Buren and myself there is unlimited confidence, and at the same time, on my 
part, the most perfect independence.'' I explained my appointment as Aid-de-Camp, 
that he might exactly understand our relations. I added : ' Now, General, no man 
better understands than you do the value of that independence of feeling, and how- 
necessary it is that it should be preserved.' He replied : ' Well, so it shall be ; 
remain where you are.' " 

Shortly after. Van Buren, in a second letter, advised that I should take 
the place of Chief Clerk. I communicated this suggestion to Jackson, to 
which he replied, emphatically. Colonel, that will not do ; to appoint you Chief 
Clerk I consider as degrading you. The arrangement we liavcrmade, that you 
"shall take the department until Van Buren comes in, is the proper one, and so 
I wish you to inform him ; which I did. There were two serious objections to 
Van Buren's plan ; one was, that I would not take such a position ; the other 
that Mr. Clay having resigned, Mr. Brent, the Chief Clerk, was charged by 
law with the department. There was, consequently, no person or power to 
appoint a Chief Clerk. 



104 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

President Jackson's InxVugural Address. 
I addressed a letter to a judicious friend, Wasliington, March 1st, 1829, on 
this subject. Lewis, (William B.,) with the assent of the General, given to 
him in my presence, submitted to me the draft of the Inaugural Address. I 
read it over, commented upon it, and was permitted to keep it, in order to 
consider it well, and suggest such alterations as I deemed important. I first 
drafted several alterations, and added my reasons for making them. Not being 
satisfied with that, I wrote the whole over in the form I would have it, and 
returned the three papers. A day or two after I was invited to a conference 
in regard to some of the proposed alterations, which I found had been re-copied, 
and I inferred from this, that the whole in my handwriting had not been sub- 
mitted to the General. There were present the General, Majors Lewis and 
Donelsou. Such parts as were intended to be submitted at this time for my 
opinion were read over, and we discussed the subjects, but with partial success 
on my part, in regard to one criticism which I deemed important — the General 
beliaving with great good sense and frankness, Lewis influenced by the pride of 
authorship, and Donelson fearing the General should fall into my views as to 
a Constitutional question. I then referred to another alteration I had pro- 
posed — a verbal criticism, — but necessary to shield the General from the im- 
putation of not properly distinguishing the improvement of revenue from its 
collection. Here, again, he united with me, as did the others. There was 
a paragraph which was absolute nonsense. I revised it, amended it, and made 
it proper. Here, again, we diifered. Donelson agreed with me that it was 
not gi-ammatical. The General was wholly indifferent, and at length Lewis 
yielded. Several other alterations had been made ; some of them I considered 
quite important, which, however, were not adverted to, and I deemed it prudent 
not to call them up, as I found Lewis' self-love was wounded by what had been 
done already. From all that occurred I was convinced that the heads and 
thoughts were the General's, the clothing Lewis' and Donelson's — most of it 
the work of the former. I will again ask for the paper, and if it is, in my 
judgment, in any respect defective, I will see the General on the subject alone, 
and explain to him my views. I learn that it is hereafter to be submitted to 
us all, as a Cabinet — as it ought most assuredly to be. Lewis will not be 
present, and we will then make it better. Had it gone forth as it at first stood, 
it would have been absolutely disgraceful. As it is, I am not a little anxious 
about it. The General's misfortune is, that his confidence is reposed in men in 
no degree equal to him in natural parts, but who have been of use to him here- 
tofore in covering his very lamentable defects of education ; and as he is un- 
willing to make these defects known to any others, he is compelled to keep 
these gentlemen about him. I have been drawn, by various circumstances, so 
close to him, that time would place me in the same relation to him which Lewis 
now holds. Van Buren never can get there, nor will any other member of his 
Cabinet, because he will not yield himself so readily to superior as to inferior 
minds. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 105 

The following is the address I wrote over in the form I would have it, I 
have endeavored to point out the points of difference between this, and that 
which was delivered. At the same time it is due to truth and to others to say, 
I am quite sure it incorporates much that was in the original draft we dis- 
cussed : 

" Fellow-Citizexs : Aboiat to undertake the arduous duties I have been ap- 
pointed to perform by the choice of a free people, I avail myself of tliis customary 
and solemn occasion to express the gratitude their confidence inspires, and to 
acknowledge the accountability which my situation enjoins, while the magnitude of 
their interest convinces me that my tlianks cannot be at all commensurate with the 
honor they have conferred. It admonishes me that the best return I can make is, to 
dedicate, as I now do, my humble abilities to their exclusive service and their 
welfare. 

" As the Executive of the Federal Constitution, the duty devolves upon me, for a 
stated period, to execute the laws of the United States: to superintend their foreign 
and confederate relations ; to manage their revenues ; to command their forces, and 
by communications to the Legislature, to watch over and promote their interests 
generally ; and the principles of action by vrhich I shall be governed, iu endeavoring 
to perform these duties, it is now proper for me briefly fo explain. 

"In administering the laws of Congress I shall keep steadily in view the just 
limitation as well as the extent of the Executive power, expecting thereby to dis- 
charge the functions of my office, without, iu the slightest degree, transcending its 
authority. 

" With foreign nations it will be my study to preserve peace ; to cultivate friendly 
intercourse with all on fair, liberal and honorable terms; and in the adjustment of 
any differences that now do or may liereafter arise, to exhibit the forbearance be- 
coming a powerful nation, rather than the sensibility belonging to a gallant people. 

"In all such measures as I may be called on to pursue touching the rights of the 
separate States, I hope to be animated by a proper respect for these members of our 
Union, taking care (at the same time) not to confound the rights they have reserved 
to themselves with those they conceded to the Confederacy. 

" The management of the public revenue — that searching operation in all govern- 
ments — is among the most delicate and important trusts. In ours it will of course 
demand no inconsiderable share of my official solicitude. Under every aspect in 
which it can be considered it appears that great advantage must result from the 
enforcement, on all occasions, of a strict and rigid economy. This I shall aim at the 
more anxiously, both because it wmII facilitate the extinguishment of the national 
debt, the unnecessary duration of which is inconsistent with real independence, and 
because it will counteract that tendency to public and individual profligacy which 
a profuse expenditure by the Government is but too apt to engender. Powerful 
auxiliaries to the attainment of this desirable end are to be found in tlie regulations 
provided by the wisdom of Congress, for the specific appropriation of the public 
money, and the prompt accountability of public ofiicers. 

" With regard to a proper selection of the subjects of imposts, with a view to 
revenue, it seems to me that the spirit of caution and equitable compromise in which 
the Constitution was formed, requires that the great interests of agriculture, com- 



lOG REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

merce and manufacture should be equally favored ; and perhaps the only exception 
to this rule, if we were about to adopt an original course of policy, would be found 
in the peculiar encouragement of such products only of either of them, as might be 
found essential to our national independence. 

" Considering standing armies, in times of peace, as dangerous to free govern- 
ment, I shall not seek to enlarge our present establishment, nor to disregard that 
salutary lesson of political experience which teaches that the military should be 
subordinate to the civil power. 

" The gradual increase of our navy, whose flag has displayed in distant climes 
our skill in navigation and our power in arms ; the preservation of our forts, arsenals 
and dockyards, the introduction of progressive improvements in the discipline and 
science of both branches of our military forces, are so plainly prescribed by 
prudence, that I should be excused for omitting to mention sooner their importance ; 
but the bulwark of our defence is the national militia, which, in the present state of 
our intelligence and population, must render us invincible. As long as our Govern- 
ment is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will ; as 
long as it secures to us the rights of person and property, liberty of conscience and 
the press, it will be worth defending ; and so long as it is worth defending, will a 
patriotic militia cover it with anirapenetrable a^gis. We may be subjected to tem- 
porary injuries and occasional mortification, but a million of armed freemen, pos- 
sessed of tlie means of war, can never be conquered by a foreign foe. Therefore, to 
any just system calculated to strengthen this national safeguard of the country, I 
will cheerfully lend all the aid in my power. 

"It will be my sincere and constant desire .to observe towards the Indian tribes 
within our limits a just and liberal policy, and to give that humane and considerate 
attention to their rights and their wants, which are consistent with the habits of our 
Government and the feelings of our people. In the performance of a task thus 
generally delineated, I shall endeavor to select men whose diligence and talents will 
insure, in their respective stations, able and faithful cooperation, depending for the 
advancement of the public service more on tlie ability and virtue than on the num- 
ber of its officers. A diffidence, perhaps too just, in my own qualifications, will 
teach me to look witli reverence to the examples of public virtue left by my illus- 
trious predecessors, and with veneration to the light that flowed from the mind 
that founded and that wliich reformed our system. The same diffidence induces me 
to look with confidence for the aid and advice of the co-ordinate branches of the 
Government, and for the indulgence.and support of my fellow-citizens. 

" A firm reliance upon the goodness of that power whose providence mercifully 
protected our national infancy, and has since sustained us in various vicissitudes, 
encourages me to offer up my ardent supplications, that lie will continue to make 
our beloved conntiy the object of His divine care and gracious benediction." 

Shortly before the 4th of March, the General requested me to prepare a 
letter dated on that day, to be addressed to me by him, appointing me Secre- 
tary of State. This was done as follows : 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 107 

" WAsnixGTox, March 4, 1829. 
" Sir : You are appointed to take charge of the Department of State and to per- 
form the duties of that oflice until Gov. Van Buren arrives in this city. 

" Your Obt. servant, 

" Andrew Jackson. 

"Addressed James A. Hamilton, of New Yoi-k, Washington." 

This was endorsed at the Department, when it was delivered to the chief 
clerk, Mr. Brent, 4th March, 1829 : 

" Hamilton, Jas. A., appointed Acting Secretary of State." 

This letter was signed and delivered to me on the 4th of March, just be- 
fore the General went to the Capitol. He said, " Colonel, you don't care to 
see me inaugurated?" " Yes, General, I do; I came here for that purpose." 
" No — go to the State House, and as soon as you hear the gun fired, I am 
President, and you are Secretary. Go on and take charge of the Department " 
(I do not state the reason he gave for this haste). 

I went into the Department, sent for the chief clerk, Mr. Brent ; he came 
and said he supposed I came to take his plac9, and that he was ready to give it 
up. I said, " No, Sir ; read my appointment and file it. I am Secretary, I do 
not mean to remove any person ; on the contrary, I wish you and others to give 
me all the assistance you can in the performance of my responsible duties." 

March 4. — I addressed to the Hon. Henry Clay, who resigned the ofiice of 
Secretary of State some days before the inauguration of Jackson, the following 
note : 

" Sir : The President of the United States having appointed me Secretary of State 
during Governor Van Buren's absence, it will afford me great pleasure to call upon 
you whenever you please, that I may receive from yon any iufuraiation which will 
promote tlie public interests. 

" With very great respect, yours, 

"James A. IIamilton." 

March 5. — Mr. Clay called at the Department pursuant to a previous ar- 
rangement, and communicated such information as might be important, viz. : 

" Portugal. — Mr. was received by the government accredited by Don Mignel, 

as Regent. Since Don Miguel assumed the throne in his own right, no instructions 
liave been given to the gentleman, who, however, expects them daily. When he 
has received them, the question will be whether he is to be received as the repre- 
sentative of the government of Portugal. The powers of Europe, whose example is 
not to govern us, liave not received an ambassador from Don Miguel. If he is Sov- 
ereign de facto, that is enough for us." 

" Mexico.— A question may hereafter arise with Mexico, similar to that with the 
last power; and perhaps another, arising out of the ratification of our treaty, should 
it receive the sanction of the present Congress. 

"The force whicli has overturned the legitimate government may not bo sus- 
tained. It is understood that the existing power is more fiivorable to this country 
than the last one. Wm. P 1 lias had leave to return for some time past, but has 



108 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. ^ 

not given notice of his intention to do so. He has been heard from at Vera Cruz on 
his way here. 

" The Treaty of limits is desirable to Mexico, and also to us. The Treaty with 
Spain, settling the boundary line, is sufficient for us; being obligatory on Mexico. 
The Treaty of Commerce lias been ratified by us, but the congress of Mexico struck 
out fifteen or sixteen articles." 

" Geeat Britain.— The submission to the arbitrament of the King of the ISTether- 
lands was agreed to without submitting the choice to the Senate ; there was great 
difficulty in doing so. It icas done in executing a 2}>'ovisi(m of laic, the Treat)/ on 
this suhjcct between the two conntries. If it is believed that such a submiss^iou is 
necessary, and the King of the Netherlands agrees to be the arbiter, a convention 
mny be negotiated with England making him so, which can then be submitted to 
the Senate. This is a subject of much delicacy and difficulty. Our statement with 
proofs and documents, with the manner in which we will authenticate them, has 
been submitted ; a list of the proofs and documents on the other side, has been re- 
ceived and submitted by Mr. Brent to Messrs, Gallatin and Preeble. A correspond- 
ence has been held, here and in London, on the subject of indemnity to Baker, for 
his losses and suflterings ; nothing decided. 

'• The King of the Netherlands feels not well pleased that we have not sent a 
minister to liim, with a corresponding grade with his ; this ought to be rectified." 

"Sweden. — As soon as the arrest of the **=;=* by Capt. Turner at St. 
Bartholomew, was heard of by Baron Stackelbourgh, he demanded an explanation, 
to which a reply was given. See what it Avas. Turner has furnished his statement 
through the Secretary of the Navy. Harrison, American Consul there, has also sent 
a statement of the official correspondence. Captain Taylor of the * * * came 
here with Captain Turner's permission, and presented himself at the Department, 
desiring to know whether he was to be considered a prisoner or not, and claiming 
the provision, in such cases made, and also to know how far he was at liberty to go. 
The answer, with the permission of the President, was : that he was at liberty to go 
where be pleased ; if the vessel was found upon trial to be piratical (she is to be 
tried at Pensacohi), he must hold himself subject to arrest and trial." 

" BuExos Atres has an interest in this matter; she is not represented here. 
The Charge of Sweden has no instructions from his government." 

" Austria. — A Treaty was negotiated between the United States and Austria by 
Mr. Clay and the Consul of Austria at New York ; which the latter, after it was set- 
tled, declined, after some hesitation, to sign, until he received instructions from his 
government. (See Treaty and negotiation)." 

The above was written down as it was related by Mr. Clay. I read it to 
him. lie approved, and then said there are two other subjects, which but for 
this d d non-intercourse, established by the President, I would communi- 
cate to him. Mr. x\.dains will communicate them to you, if requested to do so 
by the President. 

On 6th March, 1829, I addressed and sent to Hon. John Q. Adams, Wash- 
ino;ton, the followino; letter : 

" SiK : A friend has placed in my hands a new edition of the correspondence 
between you and Mr. II. G. Otis and others, published in this city, with additional 



IIEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 109 

papers, said to be illustrative of the subject of that correspondence. Amono- these 
papers is a letter -vvritteu to yon by William Pluraer of New Ilampsliire, dated Ep- 
piug, New Hampshire, December 20th, 1828, in which he says: ' During the lon«^ 
and eventful Session of Congress of 1803 and 1804, I was a member of the Senate, 
and was at Washington every day of that Session. In the course of that Session, at 
ditierent times and places, several Senators and Representatives from the New Eng- 
land States informed me that they thought it necessary to establish a separate gov- 
ernment in New England, and ' if it should bo found practicable ' to extend it so far 
South as to include Pennsylvania, but in all events to establish one in New England, 
&c.' lie adds : ' Just before that Session of Congress closed, one of the gentlemen to 
whom I have alluded, informed me that arrangements had been made to have, the 
next autumn, in Boston, a select meeting of the leading Federalists in New England 
to consider and recommend the measures necessary to form a system of government 
in the Northern States, and that Alexander Hamilton, of New York, had consented 
to attend that meeting.' He further adds : ' The gentlemen who, in the winter of 
1803 and 1804, informed me that there was to be a meeting of Federalists in the 
autumn of 1804, at Boston, at the Session of Congress, or the winter of 1804 and 
1805, observed to me that the death of General Hamilton had prevented that meet- 
ing, but the prospect had not been abandoned, and would not be.' " 

"In your letter, which is a part of this correspondence, dated Washington, De- 
cember 30, 1828, you say : 'It was in these letters of 1808 and 1809 that I mentioned 
the design of certain leaders of the Federal party to effect a dissolution of the Union 
and the establishment of a Northern Confederacy. This design had been formed in 
the winter of 1803 and 1804, immediately after, and as a consequence of, the acquisi- 
tion of Louisiana. Its justifying cause to those who entertained it was, tliat the 
acquisition of Louisiana to the Union transcended the Constitutional powers of the 
Government of the United States.' 'This plan,' you add, ' was so far matured that 
the proposal had been made to an individual to permit himself, at the proper time, 
to be placed at the head of the military movements which it was foreseen would be 
necessary for carrying it into execution. In all this there was no overt act of 
treason.' 

" Without permitting myself to believe that you could countenance any imputa- 
tion against the honor or patiiotism of my late venerated parent, it is obvions that 
the publication of Governor Plumer's letter, and your communication to II, G. Otis 
and others, notonly tends to such imputation, but, moreover, added to it the sanction 
of your name. Under these circumstances, deeming it a sacred duty to preserve the 
memory of my fother from all stain, I must also consider it my right to ask thiit you 
will inform me whether by the publication of Governor Plumer's letter, or by your 
communication to H. G. Otis and others, an opinion is to be authorized that you are 
in possession of any evidence, or that you believe, that the late Alexander Hamilton 
consented to attend the alleged meeting of the leading Federalists at Boston, or that 
he was at any time concerned in a project to dissolve the Union and establish a 
Northern Confederacy ? I beg further to ask, Sir, that if the indication, in the par- 
agraph of your letter last above quoted, of an individual to whom a jiroposal had 
been made to permit himself to be placed at the head of certain military moveaionts, 
refers to my father, you will furnish me with the evidence upon whirh that ii dica- 
tion and reference have been made. 

"I have the honor to be your obd't serv't." 



110 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

The following answer was received, dated Washington, March 6, 1829 : 

"James A. IIamilton, Esq., Washington — Sir: In answer to your letter of this 
date, I take the liberty of referring you to Mr. Plumer himself, for any explanation 
of the statements in his letter to me of 20th December last. 

" The information which I received in the spring of 1804, at Washington, was en- 
tirely distinct from and independent of that of Mr. Plomer. A part of it was not that 
your father had consented to be placed at tiie head of the project, or to take a part in 
it, hut that it had been communicated to him with a view to engage his cooperation 
in it, and that in the event of a necessity for the employment of a military force for 
its ex€cutu)n, it was contemplated that he should he placet! at its head. My inform- 
ant, to the best of my recollection, was Mr. Uriah Tracy, then a Senator from Con- 
necticut. I say to the best of my recollection, because at one of my conversations 
with Mr. Tracy on this subject, another member of Congress, also now deceased, 
was present, and 1 am not perfectly sure from which of them it was that I received 
this information. After the close of that session of Congress, being at New York 
on or about the 7th of April, 1804, Mr. Rufus King informed me that a person had 
been that day conversing with him, and also with your father, as I understood Mr. 
King, in favor of the project, but that he himself, and he was happy to say your 
father also, entirely disapproved of it. This is all the evidence I have that your 
father was made acquainted with the project, solicited by others to join in it, or 
intended by tliem to be placed at its head. That he was said to have consented to 
attend a meeting at Boston in the autumn of 1804 stands upon other testimony than 
mine. That he ever assented to the project of a separation I do not know or believe, 
and from the information given me by Mr. King, have reason to believe the contrary. 
With regard to my inferences or belief from the testimony of Mr. Plumer, wishing 
to do all possible justice to the memory of your father, I cheerfully state them at 
your desire. I believe then, implicitly, the statement of Mr. Plumer, as made by 
him, namely : that he was informed at the session of Congress in 1803-4 that your 
father had consented to attend the proposed meeting in the autumn of 1804 at Bos- 
ton, and that in 1804-5 he was informed that the meeting had been prevented by 
your father's decease. I believe also the fact that he had consented to attend the 
meeting ; but from the information given me by Mr. King, I believe that in consent- 
ing to attend the meeting your father's purpose was to dissuade the parties concerned 
from the undertaking, and to prevail upon them to abandon it. My belief is founded 
upon my entire confidence in the veracity of Mr. Plumer, upon the general coinci- 
dence of the information stated in his letter with that which I had cotemporaneously 
received at Washington, and upon the remarkable fact mentioned by him that he was 
told at the subsequent session of Congress, that the autumnal meetiag at Boston had 
failed in consequence of the decease of your father; that the project was continued 
or resumed, notwithstanding your father's decease, until the Hartford Convention in 
1814, I also believe. 

"I had further reason for believing that the project was disapproved by your 
father, because it had originated principally from dissatisfaction at the annexation 
of Louisiana to the Union, — a measure which, from common report, I understood 
was approved by him. 

" I am with respect. Sir, your very humble servant, 

" J. Q. Adams." 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. Ill 

I wish here to add, in connection witli Mi*. Adams' letter to rue, it was well 
understood not only that Hamilton approved of the annexation of Louisiana, 
but that when Jefferson doubted whether he had the constitutional power to 
make that annexation, Hamilton addressed a letter to James Madison, then 
Secretary of State, expressing his opinion that the constitutional power was 
clear, and giving his reasons for that opinion. And further, that Hamilton 
shortly before his death expressed to his friends his anxiety for the preservation 
of the Union : to one he said, " To break this Union would break my heart." 
And further, that the last letter he wrote on public affairs was to Theodore 
Sedgwick, once Speaker of the House of Representatives, a distioguished 
eastern Federalist, dated July 10, 1804, in which he says, "I have had on hand 
for some time a long letter to you, explaining my view of the course and 
tendency of our politics, and my intentions as to my own future conduct." 
He here gives his reasons wliy it was not finished, and adds, " I will here 
express but one sentiment, which is, that dismemberment of our Empire will be 
a clear sacrifice of great positive advantages without any counterbalancing 
good; administering no relief to our real disease, which is democracy^ the poison 
of which by a sub-division will only be more concentrated in each part, and conse- 
quently the more virulent. King is on his way for Boston, where you may chance 
to see him and learn from himself his sentiments.'' He died two days afterwards 
by the hand of an assassin. Several other evidences of his disapproval of dis- 
memberment will be found in the 7th volume of the History of the Republic. 

I communicated to the President, what Mr. Clay had stated in reference to 
Mr. Adams, and I was directed to ask an interview with him. I consequently 
addressed the following letter to Mr. Adams : 

" Depabtmest of State, Maech 11, 1829. 
" To THE Hojf. JoHji Q. Adams, Washington. 

" SiK : The Pi-esident of the United States has directed me to call upon yon in re- 
lation to some matters of public concern. I should be pleased to know when I may 
have the honor to be received by j'ou. 

" With great respect, Your obedient Servant, 

" James A. IIamiltox." 

To which I received the following reply: 
"James A. HAMiLTOif, Department of State. 

"Meridian Hill, Washington, March 11, 18291 

" Sir : I shall be happy to receive you this day upon tlie subject to which your 
letter of this morning relates, at tliis place between one and three o'clock. I am, 
with respectful consideration, Your obedient Servant, 

"John Q. Adams." 

March 11, 1829 : I called upon Mr. Adams as he had proposed I should 
do — this day at 2 o'clock. After the usual salutation I said, that at an interview 
I had had with Mr. Clay at my request in relation to the affairs of the Depart- 



112 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

ment of State, he bad incidentally mentioned that Mr. Adams held stocks which 
it was proper should be transferred to the President ; and that there were some 
matters of public concern which the public good required shoxild be communi- 
cated to the President, who had directed me to call upon Mr. Adams on the 
subject. Mr. Adams said he held certificates of stock in trust for the Seneca 
nation of Indians to the amount of about $112,000. They amounted to $112,- 
853.75 in the three per cents; that this fund was originally $100,000. It was in- 
vested in the stock of the First Bank of the United States, and having been 
purchased at a price above par, when that bank closed its concerns there was a 
loss. Afterwards it was invested in the six per cents, and as they were paid off, 
there was a loss : the fund was invested by him in the three per cents at about 
eighty per cent., because it was supposed they would not be shortly paid off, and 
when these were it would be at par. He said that the Indians were paid the divi- 
dends upon the bank stock, which were then over 16,000 per annum, and they had 
always been paid that amount per annum (whatever the dividends on the stocks 
were) at the war office, out of the Indian appropriation, and the dividends when re- 
ceived, were carried to the credit of that fund. He also said he held two certificates 
of three per cents, amounting to $5,833.36, which were in the name of William 
Eustis as Secretary of War and his successors in office, in trust for the United 
States to secure an annuity to the Wyandots under the Treaty of July 4, 1805, 
(vide United States, Vol. 1, page 409), which certificates of stock, he said, he 
would deliver to the President upon his order. He further said, " I intended 
lo have delivered in person that book (pointing to a large book of records) to 
the President ; it contains a correspondence I have conducted myself with 

consul at and the instruction I gave him to make a 

treaty with the . As it has been necessary to observe the utmost 

secrecy in this negotiation in order to give us a hope of success, for the British 
ministers at are required as a part of their official business to pre- 
vent us if possible from making any treaty, I have not permitted it to take the 
usual course of the office. No persons know anything of it except Mr. Clay, 
Mr. Brent, Mr. Watkin and a clerk who copied the correspondence, the 
Secretary of the Navy, and a clerk in that department (his chief clerk). I thought 

this the most appropriate time to make the effort, as the ministers were 

absent from . I therefore directed Mr. to make use of Dollars out of 

the Contingent Fund to conduct the negotiation in the manner such people arc 
accustomed to nesrotiate. This sum he was authorized to draw in the ordinary 
course of naval funds, in order that there might be no suspicion on that account, 

but to keep the account distinct. Mr. the at ■ was directed first 

to go to and if he ascertained that a treaty could be made, then to send 

for J and use the utmost dispatch and secrecy. I hoped it would have 

been completed before the session closed. In this book is a correspondence 
commenced by Mr. Monroe, and since continued from time to time, but without 
success. There is another matter of little importance as to the purchasing lands 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 113 

for Indians, " This is all ; I am ready to deliver the book, on the President's 
order." I then said, "Mr. Brent told me you had that book, and that you in- 
tended to make a communication in writing. If that is so, it would be well to 
leave the book with you." He answered, " I do not think, that necessary now, 
after this conversation ; I will, however, keep it until Mr. Van Buren arrives, 
or, if it should be necessary, in consequence of dispatches received from ■, 

I will deliver it up. I emj)loyed to take out the dispatches. He was 

unfortunately detained by a Quarantine for thirty days." After this conver- 
sntion on public aifairs had closed, I waited for a few moments to ascertain if he 
would introduce the subject of our recent correspondence. I thenrose and took my 
leave, shaking him by the hand. I saw when I was about to leave that he was 
disappointed and displeased. I therefore, after I had closed the outer door, re- 
turned, knocked, asked pardon for returning, and said, " I came back to speak 
to you upon a subject of an interesting character." He said, " Sit down, apology 
is unnecessary." I then told him what Coleman had written to me as to my 
father's opinion in relation to the annexation of Louisiana. He said, " I un- 
derstood at the time your father wrote the article to which you refer. He, 
Mr. King, and I, were the only Federalists of the day who approved of that 
measure." He then gave me a detailed account of his course in the Senate and 
particularly in relation to the proposed amendment of the Constitution, in order 
to enable the President (not to make the Treaty, or to take possession of the 
soil — of his power to do that there was no doubt) * '" * but to incorporate ilic people 
into the Union, giving them the same privileges with the people of the United 
States, without the sanction of the latter and subjecting the former to the rule of 
the United States without their consent. However, although Mr. Jefferson en- 
tertained doubts as appears from his letter to recently published, of which 

doubts I knew nothing at the time, I found he had taken the necessary measures 
to complete the annexation regardless of the Constitutional question. I then 
told him that I had been informed by Mr. Tazewell, that he understood at the 
time Hamilton's opinion as to the Constitutional power of the Government to 
complete that work as it was done, had been communicated to Mr. Jefferson or 
Mr. Madison, and had in a great measure tended to remove those doubts. Mr. 
Adams, then referring to our recent correspondence, said, " I knew nothing of Mr. 
Plumer's testimonv when I made the first communication to the Intellisrencer in 
October. He was a volunteer choosins to inculpate himself in order to afford 
his testimony to the truth. He wrote to me, that, seeing I was to be called 
upon by the Eastern Federalists, he had thought proper to state what he had 
done." Mr. Adams then repeated to me the conversation he had with Mr. King 
in April, 1804, which he had referred to in his letter (above copied). He added, 
" Your Father had nothing to do with the project. He discountenanced it. ' 
I then stated in confirmation of his opinion in regard to my father's disajipro- 
bation of the project, that he had written a letter to George Cabot on the sub 
ject, in which he expressed his most decided disapprobation of the alleged iuten 

8 



114 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

tion of bis Eastern friends. We shook hands and parted, on his part with evi- 
dent satisfaction, for, as he believed he had done ample justice (and so it was, 
though tardy) to my father, he thought himself entitled to an acknowledgment 
of that fact from me. Mr. Adams was an honest man ; but he was a man of 
strong feelings, perhaps I may justly say resentments. 

A Letter to a FraEND. 

Department of State, March 6, 1829. 

" I have been engaged to-day in receiving the Diplomats who arc in the city 
and reading their notes. I am in good earnest in the very heax't of the business of ' 
the Department. No part of it is half so laborious as the applications for office." 

On the 5th of March, 1829, I prepared the following message for the 
President : 

" Gentlemex of the Senate : The Offices of Secretary of State, Secretary of 
the Treasury, Secretary of War, Secretary of the Navy and Attorney-General of the 
United States being vacant, I nominate the following persons for these offices : 
Martin Yau Burea of the State of New York, to be Secretary of State ; Samuel D. 
Ingham of P-^nnsylvania, to be Secretary of the Treasury; John IT. Eaton of Ten- 
nessee, to DC Secretary of War ; John Branch of North Carolina, to be Secretary of 
the Navy ; John McPherson Berrian of Georgia, to be Attorney-General of the 

United States. 

(Signed) Andrew Jackson." 

Washington, March 5, 1829. 

On the 5th of March, 1829, I addressed the following letter to the Presi- 
dent : 

"James A. Hamilton has the honor respectfully to submit to the President of the 
United States, that a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation was concluded and signed 
at Washington on the 1st of May, 1828, between the United States and the King of 
Prussia, and laid before the Senate, who, by their resolution of that month, advised 
and consented to its ratification. Tiiat by the 4th article thereof it was agreed, 
that the exchange of the respective ratifications should be made within 4 months 
from the date of the Treaty. 

" That on the 15th of January last, the Charge d' Affaires for Prussia informed 
the Secretary of State that he had received the Prussia ratification, and was ready 
to exchange it for that of tlie United States. That tlie Secretary of State, on the 
day of the same month, apprised the Charge d'Affiiires of Prussia of the Presi- 
dent's intention not to proceed to the exchange proposed by him, in consequence of 
the expiration of the term stipulated for the exchange by the terms of the Treaty. 
"In his opinion, it is most expedient, under the circumstances, to submit the 
question whether the proposed exchange should now be made to the Senate for 
their advice. (Signed) James A. Hamilton." 

Department of State, March 5, 1829. 

The President concurred in opinion with the Secretary, and directed him 
to prepare a message to the Senate, which was as follows : 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 115 

" Gentlemen op the Senate : The Treaty of Commerce and Navigation con- 
cluded at Washington on the 1st of May, 1828, between the Halted States and the 

King of Prussia, was on the day of tlie same month ratified, and presented 

to your advice and consent, by the President of the United States. By the 4th 
article, it was agreed that the exchange of the ratifications should be made witliin 

four months from its date. On the 15th of February last, being days after the 

time stipulated by the terms of the Treaty, the Charge d'Affaires of his Majesty 
informed the Secretary of State that he had received the Prussia ratification, and 
was ready to exchange it for that of the United States. Under the circumstances, 
I have thought it my duty, in order to avert all future question, to ask the advice 
and counsel of the Senate as to the proposed exchange." 

The Senate advised the exchange, which was promptly made by the Secre- 
tary in behalf of the United States and Charge d'Affaires of Prussia ; the J 
latter intimating that he was prepared to make the accustomed present tlfthe I 
Secretary, to which the latter replied, that tha^^st3m~l?irn^Tec^mzed by 
his Government. " """"' ' ^' 

/ The following Address to the Foreign Ministers was prepared by the Secre- 

tary, and delivered by the President : 

" I am happy that an occasion has presented itself which enables me to reiterate 
to you. Gentlemen, respectively, the sentiments expressed in that part of my In- 
augural Address relating to the foreign policy of this Government, and to add that 
I am quite sure the true interests of this country will be best promoted by preserv- 
ing the relations of peace with all nations, so long as that can be done with a due 
regard to its own honor ; and by commercial intercourse founded on principles of 
just reciprocity. I have entered. Gentlemen, upon the high trusts committed to me 
without prejudice against, or undue partialities towards any nation or people, and 
with personal feelings of the most friendly character for all. Altliough actuated by 
a determined purpose to promote the best interests of my own country, I have no 
desire to impair the rights or interests of others, and will endeavor to eftect that 
object by the most frank, friendly and sincere negotiation. Where differences exist 
or may hereafter arise, it will be my desire to settle them on fair and honorable 
terms, in that spirit of frankness so congenial to my nature, and the character of 
this people." 

The Ministers present were, Hon. Charles Vaughan, British Minister; 
Baron Krudner, Russian Minister; Joaquim Campino, Chilian Minister ; and 
the Charges of Mexico and Brazil. 

On the 9th of March, the Secretary prepared and sent to the President the 
following communication : 

" The Acting Secretary of State has the honor respectfully to report to the Presi- 
dent of the United States, all the information in this Department of what has been 
done to carry into effect the first article of the Convention between the United 
States and the British Government, concluded at London on the 29th of September, 
1827, a printed copy whereof accompanies this Eeport. 

" The ratifications of this convention were exchanged at London, on the 2d April, 



11 G REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

1828. By instruction of this Government to Mr. W. B. Lawrence, Charg6 d'Affaires 
at tlie Court of St. James, dated February 20th, 1828, (copy annexed) he was 
required to proceed to the fulfilment of the first article of the Treaty. In pursuance 
of Lis instructions, after various interviews with Lords Dudley and Aberdeen, on 
the 14th of June, they agreed upon the King of the Netherlands as the arbiter, and 
on the 19th of the same month, it was determined between Mr. Lawrence and Lord 
Aberdeen, that the comnmnication to the selected Sovereign should be made by the 
Ministers of the United State-! and Great Britain in separate notes addressed to his 
Minister of Foreign Aflairs. The text of the note to be used by the respective gov- 
ernments in making that communication was submitted by the British Government, 
communicated to this Government, and in malcing that communication, on our port, 
copies of these notes, and the instructions to Mr. Hughes, Oliarge d'Affaires of the 
United States at the Hague, are annexed. 

" No information has as yet been received at this Department whether his Nether- 
lands Majesty has accepted this arbitrament or not. By the instructions referred to, 
it will be perceived that the choice fell upon the last named Sovereign, who was 
least desirable to this Government to be the arbitrator. Under these circumstances, 
the course of this Government, in my opinion, ought to be directed by the antici- 
pation that the King of the Netherlands will accept the trust confided to him; and 
every measure on our part ought to be tried, at least, to secure to us his f ivorable 
consideration. 

'• The King of the Netherlands, for about four years past, has been represented 

near tliis Government by a Minister Plenipotentiary, and during the same time the 

United States has been, and still is, represented by the inferior grade of Charge 

d'Affaires, thus subjecting that Court to the mortifying reflection of being esteemed 

by us as a Secondary Power. Although, as to the personal character and habits of 

his Netherlands majesty, we have a right to believe he will himself examine the 

statements and arguments of the respective parties, and the representations which 

may be made in regard to them by the officers of liis government who may be 

charged with the subject, yet it may reasonably be supposed that much would be 

igained by the assiduity of a judicious envoy. I find it was contemplated by the 

Tate President at a proper time to send Judge Pi-eble, who is perfect master of the 

whole subject, as an agent of this Government to Brussels and to the Hague, in 

order that he may give such explanation as may be required by the arbiter in the 

course of his examination. Under the circumstances, I am clearly of the opinion 

that it would be proper to send a Minister Plenipotentiary to represent the United 

States Government at that Court. 

March 9. IMy Journal of this date states, that I submitted to the President 
a report on the subject of sending a minister to the Netherlands, with the draft 
of a message to be sent to the Senate. This report, I do not find among my 
papers. I concluded by expressing a very decided opinion that a minister ought 
to be S3nt. The President agreed with mc in this opinion when we examined 
the subject. My journal proceeds : 

" In the evenmg, the President consulted Mr. Tazewell, who has manifested a dis- 
appri bationof such a measure for a long time, from some hidden motive. It is sup- 
posed from an apprehension that Hughes would be made the minister. (lie is Samuel 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 117 

Smith's son-in-law.) Tazewell expressed to me the opinion that the arhitrament is all 
a pretence on the part of the British Government adopted in order to avoid collision, 
and to protract the discussion with the late administration, having determined not 
to make a treaty or arrangement with us of any kind. The President influenced hy 
Tazewell's opinion (he is chairman of the committee of Foreign Eelations), decided 
not to make a communication to the Senate (in that he was right, for reasons which 
will be given hereafter), and also decided not to send a minister. 

'■'•March 10. This determination the President communicated to me this day, and 
desired me to call upon General Smith in order to make his decision known to him in 
the least unpleasant manner I could. I called at his lodgings. He, not remembering 
me, was not rude, but he was not cordial, until I told him, I was Secretary of State, 
and came to him hy direction of the President ; when, supposing I had intelligence 
of a pleasing nature to communicate, he relaxed into the utmost complacency. I 
then told him that his communication in reference to Hughes hf^d been put into my 
hands by the President; that, after much deliberation and advising with his Cabinet, 
he had reluctantly, owing in a great measure to his (Gen'l S.'s) long and valuable 
service, his great respect for an old and much esteemed friend, come to the deter- 
mination at^^reae^ninot to send a minister to the Hague. That his solicitude on this 
subject was increased by the favorable, and, he had no doubt, just manner in which 
he had heard the character and talents of Mr. Hughes spoken of; but that it was 
impossible for him to change a course of policy which he had deliberately adopted 
in order to yield to his feelings and ijredilections, 

" Smith replied at first with haughtiness, ' That he could not ask the President to 
alter his course from considerations of regard to him,' and after a pause added, ' I 
trust that a gentleman who has faithfully served his country for twelve years, and 
in so doing has materially impaired his fortune, will not be superseded.' I then 
repeated that I was authorized to say, that the President hoped to have it in his 
power at some future day, on some proper occasion to manifest the regard he had 
for him, and his confidence in Mr. Hughes. Mr. Smith then said, ' I suppose, he 
will send hini to Spain ? ' I replied, I do not know. Gen. Smith went into a long 
account of Hughes' services, his influence with great personages in England, and his 
extensive correspondence. I then asked him merely for my own information, and 
to turn the conversation, a question in relation to our trade with Portugal. He 
took it up, and went through the whole subject, and supposing I had put the ques- 
tion to intimate the probability of a mission, said ' I will go to Portugal.' He then 
related to me Mr. Munroe's conduct towards him, when he pushed through an 
appropriation for a minister to Portugal, in appointing Gen. Dearborn to that place. 
* * * I called the same evening on the President, and communicated the result of 
my interview, which gave him much pleasure." 

The acting Secretary prepared the following message to the Senate, for the 
President, on the 9th of March : 

" Gentlemex of the Se:n-ate. I transmit to the Senate, a copy of the instructions 
to the Charge d'Affiiires at London, w^hich led to a negotiation between him and the 
minister of Foreign Affairs of his Britannic Majesty concerning the reference, provid- 
ed for by the convention between the United States and Great Britain of tha — day 

of , 1828, of the points of diffL-rence between the two governments in 

relation to the North-eastern boundary line of the United States, and which re- 



118 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

suited in the designation of the King of the Netherlands as the Sovereign 
arbiter for the settlement of these differences, together with the copy of a dispatch 
from Mr. Lawrence to the Department of State, which, with its enclosures, Avill make 
the Senate fully acquainted with the proceedings referred to : and I transmit likewise 
to the Senate, a copy of the dispatch to the Charge d'Affaires of the 
United States at Brussels, instructing him to unite with the British repre- 
sentative at the same court, in making known to the Kiug of the Netherlands the 
selection which had thus been made of him, and in requesting him to undertake the 
proposed mediation. To this dispatch no answer has as yet been received from Mr. 
Hughes, and it is consequently not known whether the King of the Netherlands has 
or has not consented to employ his good ofSces upon the occasion- but there is 
reason to believe, from the friendly relations in which he stands to both parties 
concerned, that he will have agreed to their wishes. 

" With this view of the circumstances of the case, I submit to the consideration of 
the Senate the whole transaction, particularly in regard to the proper reference to 
the King of the Netherlands, and conclude by nominating to the Senate, * * * * of 
Maine, as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States to 
the King of the Netherlands, and ****** of * * * as Secretary 
of Legation to the same court." 

Report of the Acting Secretary to the Pkesidext on the Treaty with 

Mexico. 

"James A. Hamilton, acting Secretary of State, has the honor to submit to the 
President of the United States, That a Treaty of amity, commerce and navigation 
between the United States and Mexico, was concluded at Mexico, on the 14th of 
February, 1828. The Senate advised, and consented by resolution on the 1st of 
May, 1828, to its ratification. But Mr. Poinsett by his dispatch, dated May 21, 
1828, informed the department that the Mexican Congress had adjourned without 
having ratified the Treaty. No intelligence has been received of its having been 
subsequently ratified. That a Treaty of limit between the United States and Mexico 
was concluded, and signed at Mexico, on the 12th of January, 1828 ; received at this 
Department on the IGth of April, following; laid before the Senate of the United 
States. By their resolution of the 28th of the same month, the Senate advised and 
consented to its ratification. That this treaty was ratified by Mexico, on the 25th 
of ApriL 

" That by the 5th article of the treaty, it was agreed that the ratifications thereof 
by the respective parties should be exchanged within four months from the date 
thereof. That on the 2d of August, 1828, the minister of Mexico apprised the 
Secretary of State, of his having received the Mexican ratification, and of his readi- 
ness to proceed to the exchange. He was informed that the President was not at 
liberty to proceed to exchange the ratification after the expiration of the period 
provided for the exchange. This treaty must therefore be submitted to the Senate 
again for its advice and counsel. 

" James A. Hamilton." 
"Department of State, March 9, 1829." 

Ilarch 15. The President desired me to report to him, the course to be taken 
to check the horrible piracies of which accounts were given in the newspapers 
■of the day. On the 19th of March, the following report was made : 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 119 

" To THE President of the United States. — Sir : I have the honor to enclose 
herewith copies of the papers I submitted to you on the 15th inst., on the subject 
of recent piracies committed upon our commerce near Ilavana and Matanzas, and 
in doing so, I take the liberty most respectfully to suggest the propriety of your 
sending those papers to the Secretary of the Navy, requesting him to report to the 
President, the number and force of vessels comprising our squadron in those seas, and 
the instructions of its Commandant ; and particularly what additional suitable vessels 
could be most promptly fitted out for this service, if more are required. It is due 
to humanity, the interests of our citizens, and the honor of the government, imme- 
diately to take the most efficacious means to su]>press these atrocities. I would 
further suggest the propriety of calling upon the Head of the same Department to 
prepare with more deliberation than the pressure of his arduous duties will now 
permit him to do — a system of measures, which, by being established, and continued, 
will effectually prevent a recurrence of these offences. James A. Hamilton." 

" Department of State." 

Journal, March 17tb. The President was much gratified. Adopted what 
I proposed; desired me to write a letter for him to the Navy Department, and -' 
is taking strong measures. 

The most important subject of negotiation, in which I had the good fortune 
to be engaged, during the short period I was charged with the duties of the 
Department of State (one month), was with the British Minister, in relation to 
depredations upon the disputed territory, in regard to which there was an under- 
standing between the governments, that neither party should exercise acts of 
ownership therein, while the title remained unsettled. 

A letterwas addressed to J. A. Hamilton as Secretary of State, on the 7th of 
March, 1829, by the British Minister, to which an answer was to be given. 
The Secretary well knew that during the recent Presidential canvass, the public 
mind had been abused by the representations of those opposed to General 
Jackson, that should he be elected, he would take the first occasion that should 
occur, to rush the United States into a war with Great Britain. This was 
the first communication received from that Government, and the circumstances 
were as follows : 

The Governor of Massachusetts had represented to President Adams, that 
extensive depredations had been made upon the disputed territory, by the inhabi- 
tants of New Brunswick. This was very properly made the ground of a complaint 
by Mr. Clay, then Secretary of State (in January, 1829), wliich the British 
Minister referred to Sir Howard Douglass, who made a thorough examination, 
and in reply to Mr. Vaughan, he declared that if such depredations had been 
committed, they were without authority. He added on the contrary, " I assure 
you there is no color of authority for such proceedings ; and that every caution 
has been adopted to restrain and prevent them," and stating what effective meas- 
ures he had taken " to insure the strictest observance of his instructions to 
that end." When this communication was received, the Secretary determined 
that thus was presented to the President a good opportunity to disabuse the 



v^ 



120 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

public mind ; and to give an assurance of the spirit in ■which his negotiations 
with Great Britain and other powers would be conducted. 

The acting Secretary, before he communicated the British Minister's note 
to the President, prepared the reply he deemed proper. He then called upon 
the President, read the letter and documents, talked the matter over with him 
and read the reply he had prepared, which the President took up, read over and 
said : That, Colonel, is the very thing, it is a just expression of my purposes; 
I am thankful to you for having taken this opportunity to show how vilely I 
have been misrepresented." The reply is as follows : 



To THE Eight Honorable Charles Kicharb Vaughan, M. P. from Great 

Britain. 

" Depaetment of State, Washington, March 11, 1829. 

" Sir : I liave received and laid before the President of the United States, the 
note with its enclosures, which you did me the honor to Avrite me on the 7th of this 
month; in answer to a representation made to you by Mr. Clay, on tlie 9th of 
January last, at the instance of the Governor of Massachusetts, concerning depreda- 
tions complained of by liim, au^ainst inhabitants of the Province of Kew Brunswick, 
in cutting timber, preparing lumber for market, and erecting mills npon soil of the 
Territory in dispute between the United States and Great Britain ; and I am directed 
by the President to state in reply, as I take much pleasure in doing, that he derives 
great satisfaction from the infoi'ination contained in your communication, as he es- 
pecially perceives in the energetic and prompt measures adopted by Sir Howard 
Douglass, Lieutenant Governor of the Province in question, and detailed in the in- 
closures referred to, a pledge of the same disposition, on the part of the autliori- 
ties of that Province, which animates this G-overnment, to enforce a strict observance 
of the understanding between the two governments, that the citizens or subjects of 
neither shall exercise any acts of ownership in the disputed Territory, while the 
title to it remains unsettled. 

"I will lose no time in making known to the Governors of Massachusetts and Maine, 
the measures which have been thus adopted by the Lieutenant Governor of New 
Brunswick, to repress and punish the irregularities comj^lained of by the former, 
and to guard against their re-occurrence, and will at the same time inform their Ex- 
cellencies of the just and confident expectation entertained by the President, that 
the conciliatory understanding or arrangement between the two governments of the 
IJnited States and Great Britain, already referred to, should not be disturbed by 
the citizens of these two States. 

" I am directed likewise, by the President, to use this first occasion of an official 
communication with you, under his orders, to x*equest the favor of you to make 
known to your Government, the sincere regret which he feels at the existence of 
any difference or misunderstanding between the United States and Great Britain, 
upon the subject matter of this letter or any other whatever ; and in all the mea- 
sures which may be adopted on his part toward their adjustment, he will be entirely 
actuated and governed by a sincere desire to promote the kindest and best feelings 
on both sides ; and to secure the mutual and lasting interest of the parties. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 121 

" I pray you, sir, to accept the renewed assurance of the high and distinguished 
consideration with which I have the honor to he, 

" Your obedient and humble servant, 

"James A. Hamilton, 
"Acting Secretary of State." 

Mr. Vauglian, afterwards Sir Charles, had evidently been so strou^ly 
impressed with the opinion, so generally entertained by the Officials of the late 
administration in Washington, that when he received the above letter, he 
called at the Department to express to me, personally, the gratification my 
reply had given to him; he added — "as he was assured it would give to Lis 
government." 

I intimated to Mr. Vaughan, that he was agreeably disappointed, inasmuch 
as he had been led to believe that a very difi"erent temper would have been 
manifested. He replied : " I admit it, and attribute the present mood to you." 
I said, "wo;" when I suggested to the President the reply that ought to be 
given to your note, he said, " certainly, that is what I want to do." In conse- 
quence of the gratification expressed by the British minister with this letter, 
it was represented very generally in Maine, that I had given up the whole 
boundary question to Great Britain. Indeed, letters of inquiry on the subject 
were addressed to the President, which he showed me — one, I think, from Judge 
Preble. The answer to him was a copy of the above letter. 

The Hon. Albert Grallatin, who, with Mr. Preble of Maine, was employed 
Iby the government to draw up the argument on the part of the United States, 
came to Washington and to the Department to be informed as to what had 
been done. The acting Secretary had never before met this distinguished diplo- 
matist. The answer to his inquiry was given by putting into his hand the 
recorded letter to Mr. Vaughan. He read it with earnestness, and putting 
down the volume said, "What a gross perversion ! It is just the reply that 
should have been given." After some conversation on the subject of the arbi- 
trament, the character of the King of the Netherlands, and the propriety of our 
being properly represented at his court, when the question to be decided should 
be submitted to him, Mr. Gallatin (I quote from my journal) said, " With 
your permission I will relate a circumstance that occurred when I was first ap- 
pointed by Mr. Jefferson as Secretary of the Treasui-y, which will interest you." 
I, of course, expressed a wish to hear him. Mr. Gallatin, " You know I 
succeeded your father as Secretary of the Treasury." James A. Hamilton,— 
"No! Mr. Wolcott succeeded him." Mr. Gallatin,— « True !—Wolcott 
was appointed when your father resigned, to carry out his plans un- 
der his directions. Shortly after my appointment, Mr. Jefferson said to me, 
' Gallatin, your most important duty will be to examine the accounts, all the 
letters and records of your Department, in order to discover the blunders and 
frauds of Hamilton, and to ascertain what changes may be required to reform 
the system — this is a most important duty ; it will require all your industry and 



122 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

acuteness, and to do it tliorouglily, you may employ wliatever extra force may 
be recj[uired.' Yoti know well what the state of parties was at that time, and I 
must say, I went to the work with good appetite. The work was performed most 
thoroughly, occupying much time. All the accounts and correspondence were 
carefully examined, and thus I became master of the whole system and all its 
details. When finished, I went to Mr. Jefferson and said to him, ' Mr. Presi- 
dent, I have, as you directed me to do, made a most thorough examination of 
all ' the books, accounts and correspondence of my department, from its com- 
mencement.' The President, with some eagerness, interrupted me, saying : 
' Well, Grallatin, what have you found ? ' I answered him, ' I have found the 
most perfect system ever formed, and any change that should be made, would 
only injure it — Hamilton made no blunders, committed no frauds — he did 
nothing wrong.' I think Mr. Jefferson was disappointed. It affords me much 
pleasure to make this communication to the son of that illustrious man." 

I arose, took Mr. Gallatin's hand, and thanked him most heartily. This 
was the writer's first acquaintance with Mr. Gallatin, who retired with the under- 
standing that he would call upon me again. He did so, and I was very much 
impressed with the acutenec-s and profound knowledge of European affairs mani- 
fested by this veteran diplomatist. The next day he addressed the following 
note to me : 

"Dear Sir: If you have any New York papers that contain the last European 
accounts, I would thank you to send one to me. I feci interested in the fate of the 
bill for the Catholic emancipation. 

" KespectfuUy yours, 

" Albert Gallatin." 

The following statement may be properly presented here : 
Mr. Gallatin, in his first report to Congress, approvingly referred to Mr. 
Hamilton's Funding System thus : 

" That the actual revenues of the Union are sufficient to defray all the expenses, 
civil and military, of the Government to the extent authorized by existing laws, to 
meet all the engagements of the Government of the United States, and to discharge 
in fifteen and a half (15.V) years the whole of our public debt." 

This Report was sent to Mr. Jefferson, then President, and he addressed a 
letter to Mr. Gallatin, saying : 

"I have read and considered your Report on the operations of the Sinking Fund, 
and entirely approve it as the best plan on which we can set out." 

Further, Mr. Jefferson, in a letter to John W. Eppes, June 24, 1813, writes : 

"It is a wise rule and should be fundamental in a Government disposed to 
cherish its credit and at the same time to restrain the use of it within the limits of 
its faculties, never to borrow a dollar without laying a tax at the same instant for 
paying the interest annually and the principal within a given term, and to consider 
that tax as pledged to the creditors as the public faith," 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 123 

Jefferson, in bis " Ana " dated February 14, 1818, speaking of Hamilton's 
financial system, said : 

"It bad two objects, 1st. ' as a puzzle to exclude popular understanding and in- 
quiry ; 2d. * as a macbine for tbe corruption of tbe Legislature.' " 

Mr. Gallatin, wbo bad tborougbly examined tbis system witb a good appe- 
tite to find it fraudulent, informed bim, wbo wrote tbe above, tbat be found " tbe 
most perfect system ever formed," and tbat " any cbange tbat sbould be made 
would only injure it. Hamilton did notbing wrong." 

Journal, IMarcb 18, 1829. — Tbe President by note requested me " to make 
a synopsis of our foreign relations as to commerce, navigation, and friendsbip," 
and, also, " to give bim tbe names of our ministers of every grade ; our consuls 
and commercial agents, and tbeir places of residence." 

I found tbis a work of great labor, of wbicb I am sure tbe President bad 
no idea. I went at it, and worked nigbt and day, being determined to finisb 
before Van Buren sbould take office, wbicb I did. A copy now before me, com- 
prises one bundred pages of cap, and gives a detailed statement of tbe various 
treaties between tbe United States and France, G-reat Britain, Russia, 8pain, 
Portugal, Netberlands, Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, Naples, Austria, Hanseatic 
Cities, Mexico, Columbia, Federation of tbe centre of Soutb America and 
Brazil, Supplemental Report Nortb-Eastern Boundary. (See Appendix A.) 

J. A. Hamilton to a friend in New York. 

Washington, April 2oth, 1829. 

" Yesterday wben I communicated to Van Buren tbe President's decision in favor 
of Swartwout as Collector, and of Hamilton as District Attorney, be (Van Buren) 
was as mucb distressed by tbe latter as tbe former, or nearly so at least ; the latter 
increased his deep regret at the former, not from any want of regard for Hamilton, 
or from a doubt that be would ultimately be appointed ; but because he feared an 
unfavorable political effect. Swartwout was odious ia New York, and Hamilton 
was a Federalist, and son of the leader of tbe Federal party. Tiiese two appoint- 
ments might induce a doubt of Van Buren's influence witb bis chief. He anxiously 
wished Hamilton to call upon the President and state to him the bad party effect of 
these two appointments. This Hamilton declined to do, for reasons be gave. It 
produced an interesting conversation. In the afternoon Van Buren said to Hamil- 
ton, 'You will have to go' to New York very soon,' and be wrote to bis son John to 
hasten here on that account. In a letter to Cambreling on tbe subject, be put in a 
P. S., which he first submitted to Hamilton for bis approval. ' The President has 
this day appointed Hamilton District Attorney. Tbis was done voluntarily by the 
President, without any conversation with me on the subject.' Van Buren's object 
was to prove to his political friends that he was not at all responsible and indeed had 
nothing to do witb Hamilton's appointment. I confess I was greatly surprised at 
tbis. I knew Van Buren wanted Hamilton here to assist bim. He first suggested 
tbat he sbould be his chief clerk, and next that be should be appointed Comptroller 
in the Treasury Department. Van Buren was surprised because, although bis ap- 
pointment had been intimated to bim by Lewis long before, be bad not made up bis 



124 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

mind that the appointment would be injurious to him from its unpopularity, imtil 
after it was made. Hamilton replied to the remark made by Mr. Van Buren as to 
Hamilton's going to New York at once. ' He did not consider that necessary imme- 
diately,' and thus that was left ; the remark as to Hamilton going to New York, was 
evidently the result of disappointment, and savored of ill temper. Hamilton told 
the President this morning that he wished to be permitted to remain here a little 
longer, because Mr. Van Buren desired him to do so. That it was best ; this was 
assented to. Thus this matter stands." 

Van Buren, during the early period of life, struggled professionally and 
politically with men who were decidedly superior to him by their social position, 
their education and talents ; but very inferior to him in uprightness of charac- 
ter. He was thus tauo-ht to believe that he must husband all those circum- 
stances which would promote his success. I knew him well during that period, 
and much better afterwards. I have the recollection of hearing of his doing a 
generous action. He was a man of great sagacity, of good temper, and winning 
manners. 
/> The events here related prove that he called upon me to serve him, and that 
I did render him essential services, and he certainly never rendered me a service 
of any hind that I am aware of. 

The following letter, written by Major William Lewis, tends to prove that 
he was not as mindful of services rendered to him or as true to his best friends 
as he ou2;lit to have been : 



o 



William B. Lewis to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, April 10, 1839. 

" My deae Sie : Yours of the past month was received several days ago. As you 
say, I have no doubt there is a strong desire to get rid of Campbell, Lewis and some 
others here. But whether they will venture upon so hazardous an experiment as 
that of proscribing, and dismissing from office, men for opinion saTce merely, is doubt- 
ful. However, desperate men become reckless of consequences, and there is no tell- 
ing what they may do in cases referred to. Having determined not to leave my 
office unless I am superseded by order of the President (' Van Buren ') I shall con- 
tinue at my post without turning either to the right or to the left. Since the rumors 
to which you refer first reached me, I have not been near the President, nor shall I 
visit him until I know his determination, and even then it is doubtful whather I do. 
That will depend on circumstances. I cannot say whether he ever intended to re- 
move me, hwtllcnow that he allowed such a proposition to be made, to him, and have 
reason to lelieve he has had it under consideration. The chief magistrate of a nation 
who could listen even to such a proposition in relation to one who had done so much, 
or more perhaps than any other person, to place him where he is, has no right to 
expect either the friendship or future support of that individual. I repeat, there- 
fore, that our future relations will depend entirely upon the fact, as to whether he 
ever encouraged those who urged my removal to expect their importunities would 
be complied with. In conclusion, I will say that he has no just ground of complaint 
with regard to me. If cither party has a right to complain, I am sure you will ad- 
mit with me that I am that party, and not the President." 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 125 

The following letter, from C. C. Cambreliug, a member of the House of 
Representatives, is suggestive as to the extent of the business of my office. 
It is without date, but is endorsed " u4^;r//." 

"Dear Hamilton: I hand you the enclosed letters, and ask your best attention 
to them. I wish, you to attend to the following matters and things : 

"1. Look after Ooddington's interests. 

" 2. "W. S. Coe and Abraham E. King as Appraisers. 

" 3. Look at Hinman's letters enclosed. He is a first-rate Eepublican. 

"4. Hand the enclosed letter of Coe to the Secretary of the Treasury, and the 
memorial to the General, or to Mr. Ingham, as you may think best. 

"5. If our new Secretary of the Navy issues any midshipmen's warrants, get 
one for Francis E. Brany, of Bristol, Pennsylvania. I have written to Mr. Branch 
about it. Yours, sincerely." 

Swartwout's appointment was opposed by the leading friends of General 
Jackson and Mr. Van Buren in New York. Mr. Van Buren opposed it most 
earnestly ; and that he might be understood not to be at all responsible for it, 
he made a statement in writing of his reasons, which were of a personal cha- 
racter, for opposing the appointment, and gave it to the President after the 
appointment was made, to be kept by him in memoriam. After a year or two, 
the President returned the paper to Mr. Van Buren, saying, " I return this 
paper to you because time has proved that your opinion of Mr. Swartwout's 
unfitness for the office was a mistake." 

Never was there a worse appointment, either in a personal or party view. 
I was anxious, and so stated to the President, that Thompson should be re- 
tained. He understood the duties of the office, and performed them most 
satisfactorily. Mr. Swartwout had not a single quality of mind, education, or 
character, to entitle him to the office. He had uo political influence. His 
brother, General Swartwout, was once Navy Agent, and had been removed as a 
defaulter. 

The two following letters, written by Mr. Jesse Hoyt, are given as specimen 
letters to guide other applicants who consider themselves as entitled to the 
rewards for personal services, and the honor of public office : 

" New York, March 8, 1829. 
" To James A. Hamilton : 

"Mx Dear Sie: I returned from Albany a day or two since, and Avas surprised 
to hear that the same effort was on foot tliat had been put in motion then, to 
save Mr. John Duer from the fate that public expectation considers as awaiting all 
those who had contributed to sustain thofe whom the people have thought un- 
worthy of confidence. I believe I am perfectly acquainted with the situation in 
which you are placed on this subject, and it is due to the regard I entertain for you 
to apprise you that lam a candidate for the office. I have not taken this step witii- 
out tlie advice of friends here, and not without a perfect conviction tljat 'Mv. Duer's 
removal is called for by tlie sufferers in 1824 (Adams was made President) as well 



12G EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

as the victors in 1828. Whatever may be yonr partiality for Mr. Diier and some 
of his friends who have acted with you for the last few years, I think you will 
admit the very great injustice of leaving him in possession of so valuable an office, 
after all that luxs taken place within your personal knowledge. Laying out of view 
any personal considerations, I hazard nothing in saying that the policy of retaining 
any of the old levers in power will but too surely tend to dampen all ardor and 
energy hereafter. Though this tendency might not reach you or me and many 
others, its effects could not but be felt. 

" Yours, very truly, J. Hoyt." 

From the Same to the Same. 

" New York, April 26, 1829. 
" My Dear Sie : I am told that the President has offered you Mr. Duer's place. 
I suppose, then, it is settled that this worthy gentleman is to reap a reward for his 
political perfidy, which has been withheld 53 days too long, [such language in 
regard to Mr. Duer was most atrocious; he was as fair and honorable a man as 
ever breathed,] and that no political orthodox man w^ould be in favor of Mr. Golden. 
I knew of none but yourself and myself that are asking for it; [I never asked or 
desired the office; it was thrust upon me, as I have before stated;] and I am icise 
enough to try to satisfy you that you had better not take it ; modest enongli to ask 
you to support me. You have been out of the profession ten years, and have made 
a fortune. I have been in it almost double the time, and have contrived to keep 
poor. You have a natural aversion for the profession. I have a natural love for it. 
You can have something more dignified. I ask for nothing higher from the powers 
that be. I have otlier reasons for asking you to decline the office, even if I do not 
get it. And with a very good feeling I will tell you what it is — If you should not be 
appointed, I should be prone to think I should have had it. Will you tell me what 

is to be done ? 

"Yours, J. Hoyt." 

This man was a pet of Van Buren's. I have understood he was a grocer, 
and became bankrupt. He was afterwards appointed by Van Buren Collector 
of the Port of New York. He certainly then purloined a large amount of the 
public money. 

Mr. Coleman, Editor " Evening Post," to James A. Hamilton. 

" New York, March 18, 1829. 
"My Dear Sir: * * * j c^^^ pleased at what you tell me respecting the 
President's determination, and particularly with his disposition with regard to 
England. I am convinced that if he brings to an amicable termination the points 
of difference with that country alone, it will be more conducive to the permanent 
prosperity of both, than any event that has occurred since the Treaty of '94, and 
be received with unbounded applause in every quarter of tlie Union. It is my 
sincere belief, founded on repeated conversations with intelligent and well disposed 
Englishmen, that we have nothing to do but receive the hand of good feeling which 
she will hasten to stretch out to us. For God's sake, no standing upon points and 
ceremony further than a decent regard to our own dignity demands, and all is as we 
ourselves could wish. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 127 

"David B. Ogden carae fresh from Washington yesterday morning, and sat with 
me nearly an hour in familiar and unreserved chat. He told me the President ap- 
peared so utterly incompetent to his new situation that fears were entertained that 
the Government would run down unless Van Buren could sustain it : that instead 
of that unmanageahle self-will tliat was apprehended, he was so unsettled, wavering 
and capricious of purpose, that the last visitor was sure of his ear : that in the 
ticklish case of General Eaton, his wife had been to him with the story of her 
wrongs ; complained of the treatment she had met with from the high-spirited 
dames of Washington, and obtained from him a promise, accompanied by an impre- 
cation, that he would espouse her cause, and" teach the females of that place that 
they should bend in low submission to one whose rights he would protect and defend, 
' by the eternal God.' And such, he said, was the state of things as represented to 
him when he came away. Van Buren was the only man of the Cabinet of whom 
wise report spoke well. Berrian was the most unpopular man in Georgia. As to 
Clay, he never saw him so very much elated. However, he said, candor required 
him to confess all his associations had been with the disappointed and mortified 
Adams partisans, and that this ought undoubtedly to be taken into consideration. 
Calhoun, he said, had already begun to advance his pretension to the next term, 
and had given a splendid dinner to the conductors of the several presses in various 
parts of the United States at Washington, of wliom no less a number than 18 were 
present, and among the rest M. M. Noah, the special friend and confidant of Post- 
master Gouverneur, who is a Calhoun man. * * * 

"I am sorry, indeed, that you should think of leaving Washington at present. 
It will not be safe ; rely upon it. * * * Mr. M. Livingston mentioned to me 
yesterday that Edward Livingston's wife is a fine woman, and now is at Washington, 
and in the house with the General, and he is confident her influence with him would 
preserve him from such an embarrassing, unfortunate scrape as that mentioned on 
the preceding page ; but that he would get his wife to write to him this day on that 
subject. I am more afraid of this afi'air than of any other whatever. 

"Adieu, I cannot add another word." 

James A. Hamilton to a Discreet Frienp, 

" Department OF State, March 21, 1829, 

" My Deab Sir : I believe I informed you that during my first visit to Adams we 
conversed about ' the project ' and that I had told him what you had said about my 
father's opinion in regard to the annexation of Louisiana, or as we call it ' the con- 
vention of cession of Louisiana,' &c., &c. I was required by the President to call up- 
on him again to-day, and after we had concluded the business upon which I went and 
was about to depart, he said : ' Mr. Hamilton, when I last saw you, yon told me that 
you thought the expression of your father's opinion as to the Constitutionality of 
the annexation of Louisiana had induced Mr. Jefierson to relinquish his Constitution- 
al scruple.' I replied, ' I did express such a belief, and I will now state particularly 
on what it was founded and all I know on the subject. After the publication of Mr. 
Plumer's letter, in conversation with Mr. Tazewell I stated to him what Mr. Cole- 
man had written to me on that subject, and Mr. T. in confirmation of that statement 
of what my father's views were, said : ' I received an impression at the time, I think 
from Mr. Madison, that your father wrote to him or to Mr. Jefierson on the question 



128 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

of Constitutional power, and that Mr. Jefferson's scruples yielded to Lis opinion.' 
Mr. Adams then added, ' You also spoke to me of a letter written by your father to 
Mr. Cabot.' I replied, ' I did, but I think I was mistaken in the fact.' The letter to 
which I referred was written, I believe, by Mr. "Wolcott to Mr. Cabot, and probably 
expressed my father's views. He said, ' Have you got that lettir ?'f replied, ' No ! We 
are seeking for it.' He said, 'I should like to know the data of it — I think that im- 
portant, and should be glad when it is found if you would inform me of that fact.' 
I have ascertained that the conversation I had with Mr. King was on the Sth of 
April. — I wrote to you that it was about the Tth April, 1804. I then read from a let- 
ter I this day received from my brother John, as follows : ' A gentleman yesterday sent 
me a message stating that he had received a letter from Governor Wolcott on the sub- 
ject of Plumer's letter. It contains a full contradiction of tlie charge.' Mr, Adams said, 
' You suppose by the cliarge he means that against your father contained in Plamer's 
letter of his having consented to attend a meeting.' I said, ' I presumed that was what 
he meant. That I knew no more of it than I had read to him.' My object in all that 
passed between us was first in regard to my father's opinion as to the constitutionality 
and expediency of the annexation of Louisiana, to exchange in his mind evidence for 
' rumor,' and to induce a strong conviction from documentary evidence that my father 
was averse to the alleged '•'project:^ in order that in his reply to the ' appeal' he might be 
induced to do complete and entire justice to my father. You may be assured that 
Adams now does and always has believed there was such a jjinyVc;", and that ho will 
adduce such proofs of conversations on the subject held by distinguished persons in the 
Eastern States as will bring conviction to the publicmind. He is a zealot, and therefore 
a little mad on the subject. I do believe at first he united in those opinions then 
freely expressed and extensively entertained among his friends, and that when the 
matter became serious he became alarmed, particularly when he found men of a 
higher order than himself, and others who had conversed with him, did not unite in 
it. And I also believe that he has now and did in 1808-9 give it a deeper coloring 
than it deserved — ^butbe assured the public will go with him. He told me he had 
ascertained that it had originated in Connecticut, and at an earlier day than he had at 
first supposed, and that it was first occasioned by the slave representation which gave 
the South an undue influence. In reciting our conversation I ought to have told 
yon in order to be, as I intended to be, exact in all respects, that I told him my father 
had three days before his death written a letter to Sedgwick strongly impressing up- 
on his mind the importance of preserving the Union. That it was a substitute for a 
much longer and more elaborate communication that he had proposed to make on 
that and other subjects connected with the welfvre of the country. And also that I 
asked him if there was not something to be found among Mr. King's papers on this 
subject. He replied, ' I do not know.' I wrote to Charles King on the subject, and 
he replied that as they did not wish their father's name to be connected with the 
matter, and as they intended to keep out of it. they had not looked into their father's 
I)apers to ascertain what was there,' or something to that effect. I then said that 
we were at one time with the Kings, and that when James King had been spoken 
to, he had made a similar reply. He immediately said, ' I, however, have always 
been on good terms and been treated with kindness by Mr. King and every member 
of his family,' If I see him again I will let him know the Benson anecdote. Our 
negotiations will be conducted in a frank and manly manner. If the views and feel- 
ings of the President are fairly represented he heartily despises the tricks, airs and 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 129 

acts of dii^lomacy which in truth amount to nothing after all but to make a display. 
"When I spoke of ' the old mail,'' &c., I meant nothing more than to use a term expres- 
sive of the kindness I feel for him, and particularly at this time when he is unwell, 
and almost worn down. Will you never know how to appreciate what D. B. O. says? 
He is the prince of gossips and of •. His representations of the vacillating con- 
duct of the President, and of Mrs. Eaton's interview, is all a fable. That Calhoun is 
billing and cooing, I have no doubt, but when you tell me that Noah should be the 
friend and confidant of Calhoun it surprises me. I have always known that the latter 
was a Calhoun man. "When we meet I will let you know all. Until then I pray you 
do not heed anything you hear. Your opinion will be quoted, and you stand now 
in a position to be very useful. I do not mean to leave Washington for some time, 
although I am tired and almost sick. Preserve this letter. I have written the first 
part of it as a memorandum of what passed with Adams. 

"Adieu. Yours sincerely, &c. 
" P. S. Lyman dined with me yesterday. He is a clever man." 

M. Van Buren to James A. Hamiltox. 

" Albany, March, 1829. 

" Mt Deae Sir : I am not sufiiciently advised as to the talents of young Duane to 
enable me to judge of the fitness of his appointment. If he is competent, it strikes me 
that the selection would be well received. If the General makes one removal at 
this moment, he must go on. Would it not be better to get the streets of Washing- 
ton clear of oQice-seekers first, in the way I proposed ? I cannot, from my total want 
of knowledge as to Barry's professional talents, speak as to the propriety of his ap- 
pointment. Politically, it would be well, but I take it for granted that, if desired to 
be done at this time, it will have been done before this reaches you. As to the publi- 
cation of the session-laws, I have only to say that I Avish the contract to be made, 
and have no personal wishes upon the subject of the individual to be employed other 
than that (if the public can be as well, and as reasonably, served) it should be one of 
our friends. If it has been usual (as I take to be the course) to have it done at Wash- 
ington by the printers to Congress, I w^ould of course contract with Gen. Greene, 
There can be no difficulty in doing what is right upon this subject without troubling 
the President farther than to take his advice as to the person to be employed. As to 
the publication in the newspapers I have more to say. So far as depends on me, 
my course will be, to restore by a single order every one who has been turned out 
by Mr. Clay for political reasons, unless circumstances of a personal character have 
since arisen which would make the reappointment in any case improper. To ascer- 
tain that, will take a little time. There I would pause. It would be perfectly 
agreeable to me to take the responsibility of that measure myself, and I cannot think 
that it can be necessary to do anything about it until I come down. If the present 
incumbents should begin the publication of the laws (if that beginning is necessary) 
their work will be cut ofii'by their respective removals, and the persons appointed 
will take it up where they leave it off. We are totally buried in the snow here, and 
I fear that the roads will, for some days, be impassable. I await only the result of 
my commission or resolution, to resign and be ofi'. Eemember me alfectionately to 

the President, and believe me to be 

" Very sincerely your friend." , 

9 



130 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Van Buren was in Washington ou the 22d of March, 1829. He did not as- 
sume the duties of Secretary until after the 4th of April. Up to that day I was 
charged with the responsibilities of that office and received the salary for one 
month. At Van Buren's request, 1 remained in Washington to assist him in 
his duties until the latter part of May. 

The following extracts from letters written to a friend in New York at the 
moment the events to which they refer occurred, without reference to their 
dates, will afford glimpses of an interesting character : 

" April, 1829. 

*' I have jnst returned from dinner at the President's, where everything went off 
well. The ladies were not at the table. Van Buren, Kendall, Lewis, and I were pres- 
ent. (Kendall was invited at the instance of Mr. Van Buren, who, the day before, 
said to me, ' Hamilton, Kendall is to be an iutluential man. I wish the President 
would invite him to dinner, and if you have no objection, as you are so intimate 
with the General, I wish you would propose to liini to invite Kendall to meet us 
at dinner to-morrow,') I spoke to the President, and Kendall was invited. Van 
Buren was very attentive to him." 

Another letter to the same : 

" April, 1829, 

" McLane hesitated, but w-ill consent by letter to-day to take the place of Attor- 
ney General. But as Berrian has refused the mission and continues Attorney Gen- 
eral, that matter is at an end; and w^e have offered the mission to McLane, who 
will, I liave no doubt, accept it ; if he does not, the President has intimated to me 
that I am the next ; Vaughan expressed to me to-day a strong desire that I should 
go." 

Very shortly after the Cabinet was formed I perceived that the Attorney 
'General (Berrian) was not at all acceptable. At length the feeling ripened 
iinto a determination to get rid of him, and to give the place to Louis McLane, 
The latter had been induced to neglect his private affaii-s for some years by the 
• allurements of Congress. His most intelligent and excellent wife induced him, 
when his term of service in the House of Representatives expired, to go to 
"Wilmington (Delaware) and practise law. This being generally understood, 
the President and Van Buren wishing to bring him into the Cabinet as Attor- 
ney General, sent me to see McLane, and authorized me to engage on their be- 
half if he would return to the public service, that when Judge Duval (who was 
very aged and iniirm) should die, or any other vacancy should occur on the 
bench of the Supreme Court, he should have it ; and to tell him, if he assented, 
that he would be appointed Attorney General in the place of Berrian, 

I went on this important errand W'ith all haste. We travelled by stages at 

-.that time, and over very bad roads, I arrived at McLane's before breakfast. 

Had an interview with him ; talked the whole matter over, making a distinct 

offer of the judgeship as the condition of his going into public service. This 

l)eing well understood, he authorized me to say to the President that he ac- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 131 

cepted the oflfer upon the conditiou stated, aud that he would go to Washington 
in a few days. I returned without delay aud communicated the result of my 
negotiation. Berrian was not displaced, and McLaue was appointed Minister to 
Great Britain, where he remained until August, 1831, when Van Buren was 
sent. 

McLane was afterwards appointed Secretaryj)f_the_Treasury. He would 
not reniove the deposits, and was compelled to resign. Duane was appointed ; 
Ee refused. Then Taney was appointed Secretary of the Treasury. He re- 
moved the deposits, and d&S&sequently when Justice Marshall died, Taney was 
appointed in his place, whereas McLane should have been appointed pursuant 
to the engagement made with him through me. It is said Jackson felt this in- 
justice to McLane so keenly that he called upon President Polk and urged him 
to appoint McLane to a mission; this was done. Van Buren met Mrs. McLane 
after the violation of this pledge, and addressed her in his usually courteous 
manner. She repulsed him, saying, " She could not recognize a man as a gen- 
tleman, who was so regardless of his engagements as he had been." 

On the 14th April, 1829, McLane addressed the following letter to me: 

"Deae Sie : You will see by the enclosed that you are a better negotiator than 
you supposed " ( referring to the negotiation above stated). " I will confess to you 
that I have taken this step reluctaotly, aud with fearful forebodings. I am not, bow- 
ever — unfortunately— in a situation to consult all my feelings, much less to be fas- 
tidious, and for reasons which we may talk over when we meet. I have launched 
my bark on a new sea. 

" Believe me very truly yours, L. McLane." 

In a letter of a subsequent date, on the death of Judge Washington, which 
I will give hereafter, he referred again to this arrangement. 

Martin Van Buren to President Jackson. 

^ "AprilU, 1829. 

" Dear Sie : I have no doubt we shall very soon receive answers of acceptance 
from McLane and Woodbury. If we could determine upon the appointment to the 
Netherlands at the same time, and then announce that of "Woodbury and Van Ness 
from New England, and McLaue for Old England, all would be well received, being 
in itself very proper. The importance of having a resident minister at the Nether- 
lands, acquainted with the controversy, and able to enforce our rights in advance of 
the submission, is obvious. I cannot doubt Judge Preble's approbation, provided it 
is understood that he goes afterwards as Envoy ; at all events, what is now decided 
upon may be subject to revision when he arrives. The only difficulty in the way 
(aud a serious one it is) is the situation of Mr. Hughes. Two things in regard to 
that appear to be certain, viz. : 1st. That he is wholly incompetent to the discharge 
of the particular and important duties growing out of the Maine contest ; and, 2d. 
That from his present position in the public service, and with an eye to what has 
taken place, «Sic., &c., we cannot get him out of the way without giving great general 



132 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

dissatisfaction, unless it be by promotion of some sort. Tbere is no reason to believe 
that Mr. Poinsett will return at this time, and, if he should, Mr. Hughes' talents are 
not well adapted to a Court in ■which, from our contiguity, &c., we ought to be well 
represented. There is no other and authorized diplomatic mission open of a grade 
superior to his own. "What, then, can be done with him? The difficulty and 
delicacy of our situation in this respect has pressed heavily upon my mind, and 
I have been able to hit upon but one mode in which we can be effectually relieved. 
However agreeable and pleasant a companion Mr. Hughes is, I do not think that he 
has the right talents to make him useful to his country in the diplomatic service, and 
especially in its highest walks. It would, therefore, be a public advantage to get 
him out of the system ; but, as he has been in it so long, and owing to the peculiar 
conjuncture which exists, is so strongly fixed, that cannot be donew-ithout some cost. 
I submit to your consideration the propriety of giving him money for honors. Can 
we ever do better with the Consulate at Liverpool than to make it serve this pur- 
pose ? That General Smith would be satisfied is, I tliink, highly probable. x\t all 
events, that should create no difficulty, as he ought to be satisfied. The obvious fiict 
that the office, instead of being bestowed on a friend, had been made subservient to 
the great interests of the country (which all would understand), would serve to do 
away all sympatliy for old Mr. Maury — who having been appointed by General 
"Washington, has, on that account, some sanctity attached to his commission." 

"William Coleman to James A. Hamilton. 

"IsTew Toek, April 15th. 
"Dear Sin : My object in writing again to-day, is to tell you of a conversation 
I had yesterday witii Col. Troup, leaving you to make such use of it as you may 
judge best. In the afternoon, he came to my house not a little agitated to inform 
me that he suspected that Swartwout had been exerting himself, and engaging his 
friends to exert themselves, to induce the members of the Cincinnati to take an 
active part in procuring him his appointment; calculating that the influence of this 
body with General Jackson would be paramount; that Varick had been enlisted, 
and he feared that Fish also had been persuaded to lend his name to further his 
views, and that one of the old members of the order had called upon him for the 
purpose of getting him to join with V. and F. Mr. Troup told his visitor that he 
Avould sooner cut off one of his fingers than he would endeavor to persuade General 
Jackson to do an act that must go near to ruin him in the estimation of his best 
friends. On which he hastily took his leave. * * * Swartwout has engaged almost 
every man of decent appearance whom he has found in the streets or elsewhere in 
furthering his views, and at the same time, keeps a constant running about to and 
fro, telling every one he meets that his commission is on its way here. Yester- 
day, I was informed that he had received a letter by the morning's mail from Genl. 
Swift, another of his cronies, telling him that he had heard General Jackson say at 
a public dinner at the General's table, that he had given orders for the commission 
to be made out, and that it would be here by to-day's mail. Troup told me that he 
had met Burr a day or two since, when the appointment of Swartwout becoming 
the subject of conversation. Burr, very much to the surprise of T,, said that if the 
President did make it, he would do the most outrageous thing that had yet been 
done in any part of the United States. From which it w^ould clearly appear that 



EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 133 

Burr and Swartwout have ceased to be friends. Col. Troup said he had intended 
to write at length to Mr. Van Buren, and exert whatever influence he miglit possess 
to' prevent the President from doing an act that must prove deeply and lastingly 
injurious, but that he had been dissuaded from doing so by his son, who thought it 
would expose him to the lasting and inveterate resentment of Swartwout and his 
friends. Troup in a whisper said, Lenox declared that Swartwout w'ould certainly 
be appointed. He (Swartwout), having stated to Lenox that the President would keep 
his promise to him, because he (Jackson) well knew that if he did not, he (Swail- 
wout) would publish to the world, Jackson's participation with Burr in his attempt 
to sever the States, and establish a Government in a jSTation to be formed of a part of 
Mexico, and of the western part of the United States. Bat, why not put this 
vexatious and highly irritating question at re>t at once and forever, by appointing 
John Ferguson to the place of Collector, and Swartwout Naval Officer, if it is not 
too good a situation for him ? Eespecting the former, I have no scruple in saying 
the appointment would give universal satisfaction to every man whose good opinion 
is worth having either here or elsewhere. Such is the result of my inquiries among 
our merchants. He is a man of legal acquirements, a good belles-lettres scholar, and 
of an unblemished private character. His long experience in the Custom-House has 
made him conversant with all the statutes relating to the revenue, and their various 
readings and constructions : for he has been the mentor to whom Thompson has 
always been in the habit of having recourse, and upon whom he has always 
hnplicitly relied, in every difficulty. His promotion at this time, I am sure, 
would be hailed by the merchants of New York with heartfelt pleasure. I had 
made up my miud this morning to di-miss all scruples from my mind, and approach 
the President himself in the form of a letter which should contain a fair, impartial, 
and disinterested statement of the agitation and anxiety that prevail in this city at 
this moment, concerning the pending appointment of Collector. Perhaps I may 
prepare such a letter, and envelope it to you by an early mail unsealed, Avhich I shall 
beg you to read carefully, and then hand to Mr. Van Buren for his perusal also ; 
after which it is to be delivered, or not, according as you and he shall judge meet. 
I have just this moment been told by Mr. Burnham, with marks of horror on his 
countenance, that Henry Post, concerning whom I spoke to you in my letter of 
yesterday, has been appointed an appraiser at the Custom-House — God forbid ! 

James A. Hamilton to William Coleman. 

"Washington, Ap ril 16, 1829. 

" Deae Sir : I would immediately communicate your letter to the President, but 
that you have mentioned Charles King as opposed to Swartwout. Tf you had said 
a gentleman of respectability, or in any other manner described Charles King without 
naming him, it w^ould have done well ; but, with that name in your letter, it would be 
wholly inoperative. You must, therefore, in the same temper write another letter 
of the same tenor, omitting that name; and, if you can, I pray you write directly to 
Ingham or the President, and for this reason say all you have said in your letter, 
which I return to you for that purpose, omitting that name, but do not delay, and 
let all your friends write. A vast many letters have been sent here from all quarters, 
and they must be counteracted by others." 



1 34 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

James A. Hamilton to William Coleman. 

"Washington, April 23, 1829. 
" Dear Sir : To-day, it is believed the appointments for your city will be made. 
J". Thoniiison, Collector, will be removed, but who will get his place, I cannot say. 
I have no doubt Coddington will be appointed Surveyor, and Coe, one of the ap- 
praisers. Who will be the other, is uncertain. The District Attorney will be a 
friend of yours, beyond all doubt. The President said to me, to-day, ' I am anxious 
to make appointments for New York, that I may have the pleasure of giving you a 
reward approaching in some measure to the degree of services you have rendered 
to me.' Yours, in haste." 

A letter to a Judicious Friend, dated April 22, is given, as confirming what 
I have before stated, in regard to the want of knowledge of the history of our 
Country, of men in high position. It is as follows : 

"In order to preserve the evidence of jiassing events w^hich may afford some- 
thing for history, I relate an incident of to-day. The President, Eaton, Donelson 
and Lewis, present. Eaton, as Secretary of War, liad prepared a ' talh ' in reply 
to a remonstrance of the Cherokee Nation of Indians against what they deemed 
a ixsurpation by Georgia ; that State having determined, unless they removed before 
the 10th June, 1830, to drive them out of her territories. The Indians having formed 
a Constitution for their government, are disposed to place themselves in an indepen- 
dent position as to the State Government. 

" The object of the communication to the Indians is. First : to show them that 
they have not the rights they claim, and. Second : that the Government of the 
United States has not a Constitutional power to sustain them against Georgia. This 
paper was carefully prepared, copied, signed by Eaton, and ready to be delivered. 
The President thought proper to submit it to Van Buren for his opinion as to the 
constitutional question, and to that end, he gave it to me this morning; directing me 
to read it, and requesting Van Buren to give him his opinion by 2 o'clock. I read it 
over before I delivered it to Van Buren, and found a gross inaccuracy (which I will 
hereafter explain) repeated twice. I gave the paper to Van Buren. Ee went over 
it. He suggested alterations, but the faults I had observed, did not occur to him. 
He came to the Department with the paper, and desired me to examine it with him. 
We did so. He read it, paragraph by paragraph, and sentence by sentence, sug- 
gesting such alterations in the phraseology as occurred to him, but passing over those 
defects without observing them. lie then took it to the President. It was then 
examined by him, the President, and Eaton, and settled. When he came to dinner 
(we were living together) I asked him what had been done. He replied that all or 
most of his suggestions had been adopted. I then asked him, ' if it had occurred to 
him (I had been thinking of it, and had come to a decided opinion), that there was 
an error of a most serious nature in stating that " By the Treaty of 1783, and by the 
acknowledgment of an Independence thereby the United States acquired Sovereignty," 
&c. Whereas the true position was, and it was that which we had always insisted 
upon, that our Sovereignty was acquired by our Declaration of Independence and 
our successful war, and not by tlie acknowledgment of Great Britain or by the 
Treaty. Before the negotiation of that treaty, our commissioners insisted that the 
United States must be recognized as a Nation. The Treaty was essentially a settle- 
ment of boundaries between independent nations, &c., «&c., «&c. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 135 

" I urged that the position taken in this very important State paper was inac- 
curate, and might he injurious to us in the controversy in regard to the Eastern 
boundary Hne ; for, if that treaty was to bs considered as a grant of Sovereignty over 
our Territory, it would be urged that such a grant ought to be construed most 
strictly against us, and thus that the Maine question might be affected, and that it 
was historically a blunder ; that our Commissioners, under the urgent advice of Mr. 
Jay, refused to enter upon the negotiation of that treaty unless we met the British 
Government as an independent nation ; in addition, that it distinctly yields a 
position we had forever asserted, and sustained against the British as to our fisheries, 
&c., &c. 

'• Mr. Van Buren readily yielded to my remarks, only interrupting me to ask how 
it would interfere with the boundary question. I again explained, in the manner I 
have stated. He sat down and wrote a letter to Eaton, which he read to me, point- 
ing out the error. The letter was sent. In an hour, Eaton came with Donelsoa 
(Lewis having come before) to our room. Van Buren asked him if he had received 
his note. He had not. Van Buren then explained to him the error, and added, 
' Hamilton's keen intelligence first pointed it out ! — the paper must be altered.' 
Eaton produced it. I took it, and referred to the two places. All acquiesced in the 
propriety of a change. This is a very important paper, and will be much scrutinized. 
If it had gone forth as it was, it would have disgraced its authors, and must have 
excited great distrust of the fitness of the two Secretaries to manage the affairs of 
this great Country ; — a distrust which, with all my regard for the President, I cannot 
help indulging. 

" How many other gross faults it may have, I know not. I did not examine it 
with that care always required to make such a paper what it ought to be. These 
faults were too glaring to have escaped a tyro in our affairs, and I assure you it 
makes me tremble, when I reflect how unconscious we all are of our needs ; and 
how indifferent some of our public men are to reading, and making themselves 
masters of principles, and familiar with the striking facts in the history of our 
country. If we get through without calamity, it will be by good fortune, by the 
force and simplicity of our machine, and the sincerity of our relations." 

At this day, when referring to this singular event, I am more and more 
surprised that the Secretary of State and the Secretary of War should have 
been so ignorant of the interesting events which occurred in Paris, preliminarily 
to the negotiation of the Treaty of Peace, when Mr. Jay so wisely and firmly 
resisted the advice of Vergennes, the French minister, to whom he made this 
memorable declaration : " That he did not consider American independence as 
requiring any aid or validity from British Acts. If Great Britain treated with 
them as with any other nation, on a footing of equality, that would be suf- 
ficient." And the remarkable declaration of G-eorge III. to Lord Shelburne : 
*' The point next my heart, and which I am determined, be the consequence 
what it may, never to relinquish but with my crown and life, is to prevent a 
total unequivocal recognition of the independence of America." 

Mr. Jay's frank and manly firmness overcame all this obstinacy ; and Mr 
Oswald, on the 21st September, 1782, received a second commission author- 



136 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

izing liim to treat and conclude witli any commissioners vested with equal 
powers, " by and on the part of the Thirteen United States of America, a peace 
or truce with the United States." That this epoch of our history, so remark- 
ably manifesting the tenacity of George III., the want of fidelity on the part of 
Trance or her minister Vergennes, and so honorable to the American Com- 
missioners, was not reached by the studies of the Secretary of State or the 
Secretary of War of the United States, is perhaps as remarkable as any other 
event in the histoi'y of the high officials of our Government up to that period. 

To A Discreet Friend. 

" Wasiiington, April 23, 1829. 

" My Deak Sir : Last evening, after I returned from a party at Carrie Patterson's, 
I wrote to you a letter of four sheets upon a matter of public importance ; indeed, 
so much so that I dared not trust it to the mail. Should a very good private con- 
veyance offer, I will avail myself of it. I will only add, lest you should be excited 
by the hesitancy, that as it regards myself, it is creditable to me, and tends greatly 
to induce a wish to keep me here. I am to-day to dine with Vaughan, to celebrate 
the King's birthday. I will, when I return, unless my loyalty should induce me to 
drink too deep, give you an account of the feast and all that occurs worthy of remark. 
To-day the appointments will be made for New York. The President said to me: 
'I am anxious to do that work in order to have the pleasure of rendering to you a 
service in some measure approaching to those you have rendered to me.' I thanked 
him most heartily. 

" I am very tired of being here, among other reasons because I am cruelly 
disappointed at the manner in which, and to the extent removals and appointments 
are made." 

To THE Same. 

"April 29, 1829. 
" McLaue is quite alarmed lest he should be unable to do anything in England. 
He has presented all sorts of advantages to me to induce me to go with him ; and 
at length proposes that there should be a special mission, and that I should be a 
commissioner with him ; which would make me Envoy Extraordinary and Minister 
Plenipotentiary ; and after a treaty is formed, that I should remain with that title 
and as a resident minister. To that I would consent; and he is determined to 
exert himself in the matter with all his power. I do not think it can be brought 
about : but, if it should be, I do not think I could refuse. I told him it would be a 
great sacrifice. He replied that I could get the same, or as good an oflice as that I 
now have (District-Attorney) on my return," 

To THE Same. 

" Washington, April 24, 1829. 
" The President has sent an order for my appointment as District- Attorney. 
The rest of the news you will hear soon enongh. The appointment of Swartwout 
has quite annoyed VauBuren, who yesterday sent a strong argument to the President 
against Swartwout's appointment. It is well, if it were to be, that it is done ; and 
now I dismiss it as a painful subject from my mind, and I hope the Secretary will, 
as I have advised him, do the same." 



EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 137 

From James A. Hamilton to a Discreet Friend. 

" Washington, May, 1829. 
" To-day, Van Buren received a letter from Butler, declining his last and most pres- 
sing request to come here. This absolutely cut him down ; and as a mark of his regard 
for mc, I repeat what passed when he read the letter. lie turned to me and said : 
' What shall I do ; how much I regret to lose you. However, that cannot be helped ; 
you must not leave me until we get through with the instructions to England and 
France.' I referred him to the middle of the month as the period of my departure. 
He replied, ' Oh, my dear friend, what shall I do without you ; but stop, say no 
more of that at present ; let us go to our work.' I declare to you, his friendship 
for, and apparent dependence upon me, for his comfort (if nothing more), is so great 
as to make me almost sad when I think of leaving him, and particularly believing, 
as I do, how useful I am to him." 

"Washington, May 12, 1829. 

" As the time for my departure approaches, Van Buren draws closer to me ; I 
feel real regret at leaving him ; more, indeed, than I could have supposed. He often 
says, ' When you are gone, what shall I do for a companion ! We could live cheer- 
fully and happily together for ever, could we not? ' Ilis inquiries after my health, 
and advice to remain in-doors and take care of myself, are of the most winning 
character; never did there exist more entire confidence between two men than 
there is between us. I nm just now preparing instructions for the ministers to 
France and England, and lor Lee as Consul-General to the Barbary Powers." 

James A. Hamilton to "William Coleman. 

" Washington, May 6, 1829. 

"Dear Sir: Your letter of the 4th inst. is received, and I reply to all its 
points. In the first place, I cannot leave this city until the 15th inst., and perhaps 
not quite as soon as tliat, although I am as anxious as you can possibly conceive to 
get home. My detention is caused by my having been engaged in some public 
matters which I have not completed, and to throw up which, and thus commit them 
to new hands, would produce very inconvenient delay. In addition, I am disposed, 
although at a sacrifice of my personal convenience, to give myself the advantage of 
completing these works. So much for that. * * * As to the displeasure of Doer and 
Banner, to which you refer, it is certainly causeless. The President's mind was 
made up at an early day on that subject, and nothing could have changed him. 
A letter was written by some person in New York informing him of the intimacy 
between King and Duer, and saying, as the President told me, that unless Duer 
was removed all the declarations as to reform would be considered as illusory and 
deceptive. He told me this with a tone and energy which seemed to have its 
origin in some matter of deep feelings. More of all this when we meet. 

" Your letter to the President must not ho iniblished, as much has already been 
said on the subject of Swartwout's appointment. It stands well as you placed it in 
the paper of Monday. * * * The appointment to which the President referred was 
that of Swartwout as Collector." 



138 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

The Minister to France. The President, shortly after his inauguration, offer- 
ed this mission to his friend the Hon. Edward Livingston, then a Senator of 
the United States. His delay in accepting or declining the office em- 
barrassed and indeed displeased the President. However, about the 7th of May, 
a letter was received at the Department from that gentleman declining the place. 

I relate the following to show from what slight causes honors are sometimes 
conferred. 

When Livingston's letter was received, I suggested to Van Buren that it 
would be well to select another person immediately, in order to avoid the pres- 
sure of applicants; that William C. Rives was a fit man for the place; that 
his appointment would gratify Virginia, and thus you will have an opportunity 
to prove that you " know how to keep as well as to make friends." He assent- 
ed, and asked me to go to the President and urge his appointment. I took 
Livingston's letter. The President said, " Well, I am glad he has decided at 
last." I suggested that it was important to make an immediate selection, and 
that Rives was a proper man. He said, " Do you know him — is he competent — 
what does Van Buren say ?" I replied, he thinks the selection will be a good 
one. ''Well, I am satisfied; but before the place is offered, do you write to 
him to know whether he will accept. I will not have these things hanging so 
long." I wrote to Rives immediately, who replied as follows, on the 14th of 
May, when the appointment was made. 

"I had the pleasure of receiving by the last mail your very acceptable letter of 
the 7th inst. enclosing one to Mrs. Rives" (slie it was who had said to me that ' Van 
Buren knew how to make friends, but not how to keep them.') * =*= * "Permit me, 
my dear sir, to return you my own thanks for the friendly interest you have been so 
good as to take in my fortunes ; and to assure you that the cordial sanction of such 
minds as yours to the act of my selection for an important and delicate service 
materially enhances the gratification arising from it to my own feelings. A letter I 
had the honor to address a few days ago to our distinguished friend the Secre- 
tary of State, has no doubt put you in possession of my decision on the offer made to 
me." 

A Letter to a Friend. 

" May, 1829. 
" Mr. Livingston came on here in great haste. lie dined with us (Van Buren 
and J. A. II.) I verily believe his object was to ascertain whether he could not still 
take the mission to France. That was out of tlie question, inasmuch as it had been 
oifered to Mr. Rives. He now wishes John Tillotson to be appointed consul at 
Havre, and Davesac, his brother-in-law, to get a place. All is getting on well. I 
am very busy."' 

James A. Hamilton to a Discreet Friend. 

" May 10, 1829. 

" Van Buren and I are invited to dine to-morrow with the President to meet the 
Danish Governor Von Scholten. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 139 

" During the last two days I have devoted myself to the examination of French and 
English correspondence : and to make notes of instructions to he forwarded to our new 
ministers at those Courts, When this is done, I have done. I have, however, found 
much further and other employment, which will keep me in Washington until June. 

" This city is in an uproar of excitement owing to removals from oflBce. That 
operation comes home to the interests and social arrangements of many in this 
community, and makes all who hold office, tremble. Van Buren is still harping 
upon keeping me here. He has determined, and the President acquiesces, that in 
the first message it be recommended that instead of a Home Department an under 
Secretary of State be appointed (salary $3,500) with a chief and other clerks ; and 
this office he says I must take — having then enjoyed the District Attorney's office 
one year. So, you see, he is bent upon having me here." 



' CHAPTER VI. 

FROM APRIL 23, 1829— DECEMBER 16, 1830. 

Mr. Hamilton appointed District Attorney for tlie Sontliern District of New York — 
Difficulties of the Position — Judgment against Edward Livingston — Its Settle- 
ment — Letters from Martin Van Buren — Instructions to Ministers Rives and 
McLnne — Mr. Ehind's Negotiations with the Porte — Mr. Van Buren on the 
Newspapers — The Eaton Aiiair considered in the Cabinet — A Long Account 
by Mr. Van Bnren — General Jackson's Message — The National Bank — General 
Jackson and Congress — Memorial on the German Trade. 

The office of District Attorney of tlie United States for the Southern 
District of New York was conferred upon me by President Jackson on the 
23d of April, 1829, Having remained in Washington, assisting Mr. Van 
Buren, Secretary of State, during April and May, 1829, on the 8th of June, 
1829, I left Washington to enter upon the arduous duties of that office. 

The evening of the day before I left Washington, I went to take leave of 
the President. He said to me : " Go to the duties of your office, and make 
as much money as you can ; but remember, you are to be always at my com- 
mand. Branch (Secretai-y of the Navy) will not hold that office long, and 
wlien he retires, you will be called upon to take bis place. I want you to be 
near me." 

Having essentially withdrawn from tbe practice of the law for over six 
years, and never baving been a proficient even in the ordinary course of the 
profession, I was now called upon to renew a profession, the difficulties of which 
were increased by the fact that they involved an accurate knowledge of the 
laws of the United States; of the course of commercial affairs; of the laws 
particularly applicable thereto ; and also of the criminal law. 

In addition to tbe ordinary cases of suits on duty, bonds, prosecutions for 
forfeitures, of which there were many, I found several long pending suits 
against defaulting public officers. 

The following incident will show bow ignorantly or loosely the affairs of 
the Treasury Department were conducted. My friend, Edward Livingston, 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 141 

was indebted to the United States to a Ini-ge amount, for which there was a 
judgment on record against him in the United States Court in New York, 
He came to my office in New York with a letter dated 20th August, 1829, 
addressed to me officially, signed by S. Pleasanton, an agent of the Treasury, by 
which I was informed that a satisfactory arrangement having been made by the 
attorney of the United States at New Orleans, for the payment of the balance 
of the judgment standing against Edward Livingston in my district, which 
balance was stated to be $9,511.47, I was directed to enter satisfaction on 
that judgment. As the letter was handed to me and read, (having been in- 
formed by a letter addressed to me by Mr. Livingston, dated June 16, 1829, 
that " the debt was to be paid by the assignment of property in New Orleans,") 
.1 told him I could not enter satisfaction of that judgment on that letter, as no 
officer of the Government had a right (unless authorized by an act of Congress 
to do so) to receive anything but money in payment of a debt to the Govern- 
ment, and that his letter of June 16 had conveyed to m.e the knowledge of the 
fact that the judgment was not thus paid. He earnestly urged me to obey the 
order of the agent, insisting that it was not my duty to look into the kind of 
settlement which was made with the attorney at New Oi'leans. I, however, 
entertained a diiferent opinion ; and although very much disposed to serve him, 
I persisted in declining to discharge the judgment. He returned to Washing- 
ton, and shortly afterwards I received a letter from the Solicitor of the Trea- 
sury directing me to enter satisfaction of the judgment in favor of the United 
States agent, Edward Livingston, the debt having been paid. This being im- 
perative, I drew a satisfaction of the judgment in the usual form on the back 
of the letter, filed the same, and thus the judgment was cancelled. 

Subsequently, Mr. Ogden Hoffman, District Attorney, examining the 
records in relation to that indebtedness, and finding the satisfaction piece thus 
written, asked me why I used the Solicitor's note for that purpose, I replied 
that I did so because I intended that the authority under which I had entered 
satisfaction of that judgment should always go along with that fact, believing, 
as I did, that this was an official means of getting over a difficulty, and thus 
doing a favor to a gentleman who was a personal friend of the President, and 
who could not receive the salary of office so long as that judgment was in force. 
It was a piece of jugglery with which I did not choose to be supposed to be 
connected, 

Martin Van Buren to J. A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, July 13, 1S29. 
"My Dear Hamilton: I last evening put the last sentence to Mr. Eives' in- 
structions. They are now in the hands of the copyist, and will be ready for submis- 
sion to the President when he returns on Wednesday. I assure you I am very 
happy in having gotten through these works. I hoped to have made Mr. Eives' 
shorter, but by a singular result, they will not vary three pages. I found it indis- 



142 "^ REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

pensably necessary to throw the whole French affair in a new form. I shall go up 
to McLane's ia a few days, and have some idea of accompanying him to tlie ship at 
the mouth of the Delaware, but that is uncertain. If I send Mr. Rives' instruc- 
tions to him at New York, you have my permission to asli him to show them to 
you, and the same with McLane. The latter gentleman was much pleased with his, 
and evidently felt that his business was much simplified, and of course went imme- 
diately to worrying himself about his passage, and in regard to which he has 
suffered Mr. R. to put him in the wrong. For a truly great man, he has more little- 
ness about him than usual. I found the subject of particular directions to Mr. R., 
in regard to the claims, very embarrassing. I trust you will think I have got over 
it very well. I mean to write to the claimants to appoint a committee with full 
power to commit them by their opinion and advice, with whom I will consult, if it 
should become necessary. I know these people well. Get for them what you may, 
and they will grumble just as much for the residue as if they had received nothing, 
whilst, in advance, they would be satisfied with much less. But I do not wish to 
give publicity to this. I am amused with the rabid virulence of Charles King. His 
last display of little malice is evinced in the republication of toasts which John 
McLane got some canal contractors at Georgetown to father, to revenge himself on 
our ministers for refusing to take him as Secretary. * * * 

" The General grows upon me every day. I can fairly say that I have become 
quite enamored with him. Write me often. I was much pleased with your inter- 
view with Mr. Gallatin. His remarks were very important to sustain me in case of 
misfortune in a course I had determined to pursue, because it was plainly unavoid- 
able. But you will see that I liave looked at it in both aspects without materially 
weakening either. "What a farrago of matters here ! 

" Yours truly." 

"P. S. — Mr. Calvert visits me often. He damns us up hill and down for re- 
ducing the value of real estate in "Washington. He says, that if we were to put it 
to the vote in the district, we would not get more votes than Mr. Owen did in his 
contest with Campbell." 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, July 15, 1829. 
" Deae Sir: Your letter of July 10, marked confidential, I received on my re- 
turn from Point Comfort, for which I thank you. I have this moment enclosed it 
to the Secretary of the Treasury for his guide. With the compliments of myself 
and family to you and yours, I remain, dear sir, your friend, &c." 

Mr. Van Buren to J. A. Hamilton", 

Washington, July IS, 1829. 
My Dear Sir : Thank Mr. Huygens for his suggestions. It is easy to say that it 
will not do for us to let any other power occupy Cuba ; but, my dear sir, who is to 
take the responsibility of preventing it, should the attempt be made ? Surely, not the 
President. He can only remonstrate. To this end I shall, after my return, write a 
letter to McLane, Rives, and Everett, or Van Ness, directing them what to say upon 
the subject to the Powers to which they are accredited. My hope and belief is, that 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 143 

the expedition against Mexico will altogether fail, and that Mexico will not feel her- 
self strong enough to attempt Cuba, with a full knowledge that she could not be al- 
lowed to possess it long if she succeeded in conqueruig it in the first instance, and with 
reason to believe that it would be the means of involving herself with other Powers. 
I am well satisfied with my instructions, but you will now see them and judge for 
yourself. 

" You will see by the articles which have already appeared upon the subject of the 
negotiation of a tarifl^, how much sensibility there is in the public mind upon that sub- 
ject. A very ridiculous article was inserted in the Telegraph by one of the individ- 
uals left by General Green in charge of the paper, upon which Gales has seized with 
much address. It will be corrected in to-day's Telegraph. I shall leave here for 
McLane's on Wednesday morning. "Will stay there a day or two and return to "Wash- 
iogton by Cape May. I wrote to Cambreling, advising him and you to meet me at 
Delaware, and to take a trip to the Cape with me. If you do not apprehend that a 
meeting with the anti-tariff champion at such a place would, in connection with what 
has already been said, furnish food for newspaper speculation, I should like to have 
you come. 

" Cam. would turn up his'nose at this in great contempt, but there is more in 
small matters than he is always aware of, although he is really a sensible and useful 
man. 



* * * * 



" In haste, yours truly." 



Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, August 13, 1829. 

" My Dear Sir : Baron Krudner left here this morning, in all respects well satis- 
fied, lie made no complaints, nor had he cause for any. There is a Mr. Ehind here, 
whom we have appointed Consul at Odessa. He has been very strongly recommended 
— appears to be a very sensible, worthy man, and, between us, I have it in contem- 
plation to associate with him Offley to renew the negotiation with the Porte. I am 
persuaded I can succeed. Krudner is anxious that he should. Enquire about Ehind, 
and let me know. The President is much better, and keeps us hard at work. He is 
determined to do all the good he can. We are trying to get him off to the Rip-Eaps 
for a few weeks, and shall succeed. Why is it that the Courier and Post are so in- 
cessant in their attacks upon Don Miguel ? Mr. Brent's dispatches in regard to him 
are much more favorable. He says (and there is no doubt of it), that the publications 
of that character in the English papers are the result of combined efforts fro:n the 
opposition at home. Mr. Torlarde becomes very uneasy,jand his feelings are the more 
excited by the circumstance of the arrival and presentiition of the new Charge from 
Brazil. We shall soon have to decide. I fear, my dear sir, I shall give you too much 
trouble about my affiiirs. 

'' In haste, yours, &c. 

" P. S. Ask our good friends the Huygenses when they are coming home, and 
what I can do for them. Tell them Washington is the healthiest place in the known 
world— at least so I try to make myself think." 

"Washington, Septembers, 1829. 
"The credulity of tlie public in regard to the numerous dissensions in the present 
Cabinet is amusing, and so far as it relates to our friends mortifying. You are able 



144 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

to appreciate the means I possess to form an accurate judgment upon the matter, 
and if you think mj statements entitled to confidence, and are disposed, as I have no 
doubt you will be, to check silly desires of the enemy, I beg you to say, as in truth 
you may, tliat there is not a particle of truth in any of those inventions of a despair- 
ing and discredited faction. There has been no question decided by the Govern- 
ment since the 4th of March upon which the slightest diversity of opinion has exist- 
ed between the different members of the Cabinet ; between the President and them 
collectively, and between them individually, the utmost harmony and the kindest 
feelings exist, and they are all sedulously engagetl, each in his respective sphere, in 
laboring to deserve the approbation of those by whom they have been selected to 
■ serve. 'No ground for your apprehensions, if the strictness of my principles did not 
of itself afford sufficient security. 

" The President spoke very affectionately of you to-day, as did Mr. Vaugh'an, 
whom I begin to like more and more. 

" Kemember me kindly to the ladies. Keep a good look-out upon John, that he 
does not spend too much money. IIo has risen a good deal in my estimation by the 
manner in which he has attended to his business at Oswego. Truly yours, 

"M. Van Bueen. 
"Jas. a. Hamilton, Esq." 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, September 11, 1829. 

" Dear Sir : It gives me pleasui-e to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 

3d instant, and to thank you for the friendly concern which you have expressed for 

my health. 

"It is my steady object to administer the Government according to the laics ; and 

to advance the good of the country by a faithful discharge of my duty. And should 

Providence enable me to succeed, or, rather, to terminate my course far short of 

your favorable anticipations, I shall be amply rewarded for the cares and labors 

which it imposes upon me. 

"Your friend and obedient servant." 

M. Van Bcren to J. A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, September 11, 1820. 
" Dear Sir : Mr. B. Trist (whom I take pleasure in introducing to your kind 
attention) will deliver you the papers for Mr. Rbind. Do me the favor to send for 
him and deliver them to him. It cannot be necessary to urge upon you nor to ask 
you to impress upon Mr. Rhind the importance of keeping the whole matter an 
entire secret. He will not, I trust, make the slightest exception to this. It is also 
important that he should be off as soon as possible. It has not been thought neces- 
sary to make Mr. Rhind an advance towards his expenses, as provision is made for 
them, when he arrives, and as he was going out independent of his appointment. 

"In haste, your friend." 

M. Van Bcren to J. A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, September 21, 1829. 
"MtDeaeSir: You are right in respect to my wislies as to Mr. Rhind's de- 



KEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTOIS'. 145 

parture. I wish him, by all means, to go as soon as he can. The publication of his 
appointment as Consul to Odessa will furnish a cover. ******* 

" Yours, in haste." 

M. Van Buren to J. A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, September, 1829. 

" My Deae Sik : It cannot be necessary to trouble the President with this affair. 
I will answer for "Worth's fidelity to his engagements. 

" What is to be done with the indiscretion of our Editors ? The last article in the 
Courier and Bnquirer is abominable. First, they abuse Don Miguel incessantly, and 
without discretion, and when we are upon the point of acting, they endeavor to 
create the impression that what we may do will be done to annoy England, and that, 
at a moment when we are about commencing the most delicate and important 
negotiations with her. I told Mr. Ehind that if he hinted to Major Noah the sub- 
ject entrusted to him, I should see it in the papers. The idle vanity of being thought 
to be in the secret in relation to public affairs has always been too strong for any 
considerations of discretion, with Noah. Althoiigh he has endeavored to draw 
public attention to the subject, I am confident Mr. Ehind cannot have disregarded 
my injunctions. Baron Krudner complains bitterly of the marked partiality of the 
Courier and Enquirer, and Evening Post in the publication of news from the East, 
and of their severe denunciations of Russia. Whence the necessity for this ? Russia 
has always been the friend of the United States, and wishes now to cultivate the 
best relations with us, and may in a possible, not to say probable, result of the war 
in the East, be highly useful to us. I told him that we had nothing to do with the 
papers, could not control them if we would, and must not be held responsible for 
their acts ; and I am strongly tempted to cause such a declaration to be made in the 
Telegraph. It is difficult to make any but the English understand the character of 
the Press in this Country, and its relation to the Government. 

" I wisli you would speak to Bennett, from whose prudence I expect much ; — 
beg him to discard the miserable vanity of speculating in advance upon the special 
movements of the Government for the purpose of being supposed to be advised of 
them — to state foreign news fairly and frankly, without embarking in foreign feel- 
ings; doing justice to all and remarking with calmness and impartiality upon the 
credit that is due to the different accounts and probable results, without embarking 
on the side of either ! We have friendly relations with all, and desire to maintain 
them. 

"Although it is wiser to avoid following the account of English papers, there is 
no necessity for avowing, as was done in the Enquirer, ****** 

" Tiie President never was better. He wants more and better pens, and the 
price of them, so that he can pay, which, you know, is an aff'air of principle with him. 

" Try a gold one— such were Mr. Jeff'erson's. 

" Yours, cordially." 

M. Van Buren to J. A. Hamilton. 

" September 24, 1S29. 
"I\[y Dear Hamilton: I have been a little indisposed for a few days, but con- 
stantly at work, and am now ready for Van Ness, whom I expect hero in a day or 
10 



146 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

two. I am obliged b/ your suggestions ia relation to tbe expressions in the docu- 
ment submitted to your inspection. It was looked into at the time by Mr. Brent, 
Mr. N. Trist, and myself, and we concUuled that either expression was allowable, 
and that such appeared to be the sense of others. Although no great judge in such 
matters, I like to see things right. Eaton has a mode of expression peculiar to him- 
self, but I understand is generally found strictly correct when looked into. I have 
found it so, when I quarrelled with him for his peculiarities. 

" I have the greatest confidence in our friend Huygens in all respects, but he is 
wrong in this case. Brent, at Lisbon, was instructed to establish an intercourse 
with the government in fact, however constituted. All that I had to do, was to be 
well advised of the facts, — that was done by writing to Brent, whose report repels 
all idea of a change, and shows that tlie reports about Don Miguel are in a great 
degree the result of combination and de.Mgn on the part of his opponents. If you 
look at the English papers, you will find that they are evidently preparing the public 
mind for his resignation. They say we have no right to interfere with him. No 
other Power has shown a disposition to do so, and Portugal is quiet. What then 
are we to do? We must have intercourse with his government, and are we to act 
like children, pouting and saying, ' You have behaved naughty, and therefore we 
Avon't speak to you, except so far as is actually necessary.' Mr. Torlarde received 
instructions from his government to come home if, contrary to our known principles, 
his recognition was longer delayed — but he has behaved extremely well. Tiie only 
o-rounds upon which we could further refrain must be the legitimacy of his title or 
bis overthrow of the Constitution. The first would be madness, and, acting upon 
the last, we ought for the same reason to refuse diplomatic relations with Spain and 
France. I have told him I would settle the question early next week. 

"You are right as to the inexpediency of publishing Mr. Ehind's appointment. 
It was done by mistake, but without much fault, — but I believe it will do no harm. 
They will talk about it a week or two, and then they will forget it. Everything 
will depend upon the State of the War when he reaches there. If the Russians are 
•successful, our success is certain. 

" I am much embarrassed about Poinsett.— My last accounts from Yera Cruz 
say that bis house is protected by Mexican troops, and bring a very spirited and 
able address of his in replying to the resolution of the Mexican State Government 
instructing their members in Congress to move his expulsion. The vote in Congress 
was 23 to 19, which appears to be tbe state of parties in the popular branch. In 
the Senate the opposition have the majority, tlie time of their election not having 
.expired." 

The Eaton Affair in the Cabinet. 

"I would rather pull a tooth than say a word to you upon the other subject, 
although you look at it with higher views. I think you have a little of McLnne's 
fondness for gossip. Kow, I have so strong an aversion to it, and that is so well 
known, that there is perhaps no one in the city who is not better advised upon the 
point than I am. I will state a few general facts : It appears that before the appoint- 
ment of the Cabinet, General Jackson had been informed by his friend Dr. Ely, that 
he had been told by a Presbyterian clergyman of standing, that Mrs. Eaton had had 
ail abortion produced of a child, of which Eaton was the father. This Avas pressed 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 147 

upon bim through various confidential channels, and lie was so much paralyzed bj it 
that be suffered it to come to Eaton's knowledge. Mrs. Eaton immediately went to 
Philadelphia and demanded the author, which was promised to be given in due 
time. Afrer the President's return to Washington from the Rip-Raps, bis.clergy- 
man, Dr. Campbell, called upon him, and told him that he was the Presbyterian 
clergyman referred to, and then told bim a story tliat he said had been told him by 
a Dr. Somebody, who is now dead, which contained a relation of his having been 
sent for, the child being born before he arrived, &c., «&c.— an extremely improbable 
tale— which, he said, he had communicated to Dr. Ely for good and pious purposes, 
and from friendly motives to General Jackson. The General, with his characteristic 
sagacity and promptness, urged him to give him the time when that took place, say- 
ing that this was the first specific allegation that had been made to him, and that 
although he could not see why the disclosure bad been made to him, he was disposed, 
since such had been the case, to look into it ; and with him, you know, to undertake 
is to do. 

" He found that Timberlake had been a merchant here, and obtained his books, 
and found by them that he had been in Washington during the whole of the year 
1821 (the period, he says, positively fixed upon by Mr. Campbell), and that of 
course there could have been no inducement for such a step, and the story was conse- 
quently false. He then sent for Mr. Campbell and told him he would satisfy him that 
he had done the woman injustice, and would then expect that, as a minister of the 
gospel, he would make her all the reparation in his power. It was not controverted 
bat that his facts made it out, that such a thing could not have happened in 1821, 
but Campbell said the President had not understood him correctly— that it was in 
'22 or '23, I forget which. The President denied this, and said he could not be 
mistaken, for he had taken a memorandum of the date at the time. The conduct 
of Mr. Campbell excited him considerably, but not so as to induce him to say 
anything at which exception could be taken. There were two other allegations, 
viz., that Timberlake had cut his throat in consequence of suspicion of Eaton, and 

that Mrs. E. paid her board in New York at Mrs. Zeese's. Letters were 

furnished him from several officers who wQve with Timberlake, which repelled the 
idea that he had any such impressions, and he himself had received a letter from 
bim on his last cruise, presenting him (General Jackson) with a Turkish pipe, 
which he (T.) said in his letter he sent through liis (Timberlake's) friend. Major 
Eaton. This was a short time before his death. Dr. Ely had been to New York, 
and reported that that story was without foundation. In the meantime, Dr. 
Campbell addressed a letter to the General, which lield out the idea that the 
General might bring his ofiicial influence to bear upon the matter to crush him, and 
requested its forbearance. This led to a correspondence between them, in which 
the General as usual got decidedly the advantage. Thus things stood when I received 
a summons to attend at his house in the evening on business, where I found the 
whole Cabinet (except Major Eaton), Dr. Ely and Campbell. The old gentleman 
then, tbrougli Major Donelson, read, first, his correspondence with Mr. Campbell, 
second, a protocol of the conversation between Major Donelson (to whom Campbell 
had made the first communication) and Campbell— the letters from the officers, &c. 
Dr. Ely made a full statement of his agency in the matter, and expressed his con- 
viction of the falsity of the New York story, and testified loudly and empliatically 
to the purity and exemplary fairness of the General's conduct in the whole business. 



148 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

The General wound the matter up by one of his eloquent speeches, in which he 
stated the manner in which lie had been persecuted by confidential communications ; 
the injustice he had done Major Eaton by writing to him ; the refusal on the part 
of all those who had communications with him to stand forward and justify what 
they had said ; his long acquaintance with Major Eaton ; the ardor of his friendsliip 
for him, and his unlimited confidence in his honor and integrity ; his entire con- 
viction that Mrs. Eaton was a virtuous and persecuted woman ; — declaring that his 
object in sending for us was to repel the insinuation that he wished to give the 
subject a political consequence ; announcing his determination to wash his hands of 
it, and closing with a tolerably emphatic denunciation against any confidential com- 
munications upon the subject for the future. He said, that if any person had come 
forward and establislied, as he had asked them to do, anything dishonest against 
Eaton, he would have instantly cast him ofi", if he had been the last friend he 
had in the world; but that all the world knew, and, if they did not, they should, 
that he never abandoned his friends except for causes well established, «&c. ; and 
so, we broke up. 

" He quit Mr. Campbell's church because he said he had not acted like a Christian, 
and his preaching would be lost upon him. He now goes to Dr. Post's, and the 
gossips say that ]ie has been driven from pillar to post, regarding Campbell (of 
whom I think veryl'ghtly) as a pillar in the church. A quarrel between Eaton 
and Branch, from a supposition on the part of the former that B. had not used Mr. 
E, properly, was threatened. All the agency I have taken in the matter has been 
to prevent violence in that, and one other, respect. It has given rise to strong 
feelings in that quarter, which may or may not pass over. The President has, since 
that time, talked freely and confidentially with me upon the subject. He feels 
deeply for Eaton, but is in better health and spirits than I ever knew him — more 
bright, by far, than when you were here, and will not do a weak or imprudent 
thing of any description. Removals of Towson and others, sometimes reaching 
higher, are talked about ; but you need have no apprehension that the wheels of 
Government will stop in consequence of it. It has had a tendency to check the 
intermeddling spirit of some, and, so far, has done good. 

" Now you have the whole story. 

" Your friend." 

Chaeles RniND to James A. Hamilton. 

" New York, October 14, 1829. 

"Deae Sir: I beg you to accept my grateful acknowledgements for the very 
friendly inannor in which you have been pleased to introduce me to Commodore 
Biddle. 

" I shall send Mr. Offley's letter to Mr. Van Buren by the mail of to-morrow, 
and if you will do me the favor to indorse the Bond (as Consul), and bring it with 
you to your oflice to-morrow morning, I will send both in one enclosure. 

" I also ask the favor of you to address a note to Commodore Biddle quoting Mr. 
Van Buren's letter so far as regards my expenses. I leave my own private alliiirs 
luitouihed, and shall proceed on my mission with the sole view of accomplishing it, 
leaving my commercial arrangements entirely out of the question. As Mr. Van Buren 
observes, my expenses only are to be paid, and this I wish the Commoiore to under- 
stand. The remuneration for services, I leave entirely to the President and Mr. Van 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 149 

Buren, and that is a matter of no importance in my view of tlie subject,— my aim 
being entirely to obtain the vast commerce which will afltbrd life and vigor to the 
shipping interest now so mucli depressed. The immense importance of this trade 
is not known, but if we succeed in making a treaty (of which I have no doubt), I 
venture to assert that no adininistralion since the days of Washington wUl have 
efiected an object of such vast importance; when developed, it cannot fail to draw 
applause from every quarter of the Union. 

" I indulge the fond hope that before Congress adjourns, I shall return with a 
satisfactory treaty, opening to us this immense field for the enterprise of our citizens ; 
and I assure you, it will be one of the most gratifying circumstances in my whole 
life, to be an humble instrument in effecting it. I shall not return without a treaty 
or permission to open the commerce of that sea — and as / must return to make my 
commercial arrangements, and arrange my private affairs, I shall use every effort 
to be here early in the spring. 

"With great respect and esteem, I am, dear sir, your obedient servant. 

" P. S. With the exception of my son and yourself, no one is aware of my move- 
ments. I shall not even take leave of my family, but embark silently." 

M. Vax Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" W^ASHixGTON, October 15, 1829. 

"Dear Sir : I hate to plague you, but you may as well die for an old sheep as a 
lamb, and I do not know where that reprobate son of mine is, but take it for granted 
he is on his way. If not, I wish you would give him a sound flogging for not writing 
to me. Now for business. 

" I have just finished a despatch for Madrid, which I would give a crown to be able 
to show to you. Lewis, whom I begin to like very well, is coming to New York. 
Tor God's sake, enable him to distinguish the honest men from the rogues. 

"How is Eliza? She is a bad girl that she won't write me. The President's 
health really was never better, nor mine. * * * j have dined with Yaughan 
about seven times this winter. He behaves extremely well. My business, though 
unfinished, has become very easy and agreeable, and I am spending my time very 
pleasantly. 

" Remember me to Mrs. H., and don't forget to let Eliza spend the winter here. 

" Yours truly, 

" M. Van Buren. 
"James A. HAmuTON." 

President Jackson's Message, 1829. 

In November, 1829, Van Buren, Lewis, and other friends of the President 
being embarrassed in relation to some parts of the proposed Jlessage, and parti- 
cularly such parts as related to the Bank of the United States, urged me to go 
to Washington in the hope that I might be useful. 

From a letter now before me, addressed to a friend, written at the Presi- 
dent's house, Washington, Nov. 28, 1829, I quote : 

Ou my arrival, yesterday, at half past 3 o'clock, I went to Van Bureu's, 



150 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

and received a most pleasing reception; after dinner, I came to the President's 
house, where I had a little conversation with him. and an invitation to break- 
fast this morning; after breakfast the President entered upon all his matters; 
told me he wanted my time, and in order that I might give it to him with 
greater facility, desired me to stay with him, and designated a room which I 
am now occupying amid scraps and drafts of all kinds. I found that the draft 
of the message was the work of different hands. That which referred to the 
Indians, extended over several pages. The Bank of the United States was 
attacked at great length in a loose, newspaper, slashing style. I was at work 
until about four o'clock in the morning ; during the night the President, who 
slept in an adjoining room, being awakened by my repairing my fire, came into 
my room in his night gown, and said, " My dear Colocel, Why are you up so 
late ? " I replied, " I am at my work which I mean to iinish before I sleep." 
He then called his mulatto servant, who slept on a rug in his room, to come 
and remain in my room to keep the fire going. I went to bed at five o'clock, 
and at eight, having dressed myself, I went into his room to inform him that 
the woi'k was finished. He asked, " What have you said about the Bank? " I 
replied, "Very little." I then read what I had written. "The charter of the 
Bank of the United States expires in 1836, and its stockholders will most 
probably apply for a renewal of their privileges. In order to avoid the evils 
resulting from precipitancy in a measure involving such important principles, 
such deep pecuniary interests, I feel I cannot do justice to the parties interested 
too soon, to present it to the deliberate consideration of the legislature and the 
people. Both the constitutionality and the expediency of the law creating the 
bank are well questioned by a large portion of our fellow-citizens ; and it must 
be admitted by all that it has failed in the great end of establishing a uniform 
and sound currency." When I stopped here, he said, " Do you think t>hat is 
all I ought to say ? " I answered, " I think you ought to say nothing at present 
about the bank." 

He replied, " Oh ! My friend, I am pledged against the bank, but if you 
think that is enough, so let it be." Giving him the message as I had arranged 
its various parts, and copied it, T left it with him, and returned to my room, 
dressed myself, and went over to Van Buren's to breakfast, taking with me the 
draft of what I had written in regard to the bank. When I came in. Van 
Buren said, " Well, Hamilton, what is done ? " I replied, "the work is finished. 
I could not induce him to let me omit everything as to the bank, and here is 
what he agrees to." I then read the above paragraph, and said to him : " Van 
Buren, you are against the bank on the ground of its unconstitutionality." He 
said, "Oh ! no, I believe with Mr. Madison that the contemporaneous recognition 
of the constitutional power to establish a bank by all the departments of the 
government, and with the concurrence of the people, has settled that question in 
favor of the power." See Mr. Madison's message of the 30th of January, 1815. 

A letter to a friend, dated, President's house, Monday evening, Nov. 30, 
1829, says : 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 151 

"I have only time after a long day's work to write : I am almost well ; and in 
order to be quite so, I abstain from all wine and nearly all food. 

" The President's message now entirely engrosses us, and you will say it must 
have great interest, when you learn that I was at work until 12 o'clock last night, 
and, again, at 7 this morning, and from that time to this, without more interruption 
than breakfast and dinner. It will be quite interesting. 

" J. A. Hamilton." 

I quote from a letter to a discreet friend : 

President's House, 3 o'clock P. M., Dec. 3, 1829. 

" I gave the President the hour for a confidential conversation which he requested 
last night, and I now relate to yeu what occurred, in order that it may be preserved 
in this form. After talking about the message, the revision of which I supposed I 
had completed, which occupied me from 10 to 4 o'clock in the morning, and also 
touching upon the difficulties in the cabinet, growing out of a certain delicate matter, 
he said, ' Ool. Hamilton, I named to you that I wished to have a confidential con- 
versation with you : what I am now going to say, I never breathed to any human 
being. You must know that the public mind is turned to Van Buren as the Presi- 
dent of the United States, and I am afraid that his being Secretary of State will be 
an objection to him, for everything will be done against him by Calhoun. Now 
when he leaves the Cabinet, which cannot be very soon, I have determined you shall 
(if you will) take his place. It cannot be very soon, but will be so.' I replied, 
' General, in answer to your suggestion, I can only say that there is no situation 
in which you can place me that I am not willing to serve you.' ' Very well,' said 
he, ' so let it rest until the time arrives.' We then conversed upon sundry other 
matters. At present, I make no comment on this unexpected and singular sugges- 
tion, but I beheve I understand it." 

PRESIDENT Jackson to James A. Hamilton 

" Washington, December 19, 1829. 

" My Dear Sir : It is a source of much gratification to me that the message has 
been so generally well received both by my friends and a great portion of my political 
enemies. I have received from Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, 
and Ohio, very flattering congratulations on this subject. I was aware the bank 
question would be disapproved by all the sordid and interested who prize self- 
interest more than the perpetuity of our liberty, and the blessings of a free republican 
government. * * * fj^g confidence reposed by my country dictated to my con- 
science that now was the proper time, and, although I disliked to act contrary to 
the opinion of so great a majority of my cabinet, I could not shrink from a duty so 
imperious to the safety and purity of our free institutions as I considered this to be. 
I have brought it before the people, and I have confidence that they will do their 
duty. 

" I will thank you for your ideas on the details of my proposed National Bank. 
First, as a bank of deposit for the facility of the transfer of public moneys and the 
establishment of a sound and uniform currency, making, if you please, the Custom- 
house a branch to this National Bank, and attaching it to the Treasury Department. 



152 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

The other of a mixed charactei* -which may fulfil all the purposes of a bank, and be 
free from the infringement of State rights and our Constitution. So soon as your 
leisure will permit, I will thank you for your views upon this important subject, that 
I may use them when it may become necessary in the way you have suggested. I 
am hapi^y to hear that on your return you found your amiable family well, to whom 
I pray yon to present me most respectfully. 

" Sincerely your friend, 

"Andrew Jackson." 

James A. Hamilton to Duff Green, Esq. 

"New York, December 19, 1829, 3 o'clock p. m. 

" Dear Sir: Your letter of the ICth instant is this moment received. The inti- 
mation that / ani to le charged with a speculation, &c., surprises me ; as much 
because I have not heard of or seen the article or paper to which you refer, as from 
its being wholly groundless. I never have been connected with the Bank in any 
way or manner whatever, and never made a purchase or engaged in a speculation in 
its stock, directly or tlirough the intervention of any other persons. 

" I arrived in this city late Tuesday evening, and the message was received early 
the next morning, and since my return I have been continually unwell and engaged 
in Court, which must be my excuse for not having attended to your particular busi- 
ness. As the Court adjourned to-day, I am now relieved, and will, as far as my 
health will permit, endeavor to ascertain whether the money can be borrowed or 
not. In haste, yours, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Andrew Jackson. 

" New York, December 22, 1829. 

" My Dear Sir : I enclose a letter received by me from our friend General Green, 
and beg leave to call your attention to the last paragraph. This letter was received 
late on Saturday or Monday. I called upon the Editor of the Daily Advertiser to 
examine his files (for I had not heard of the paragraph referred to). I did so, and 
inquired of the Editor whether any allusion was intended to be made to me. He 
assured me unhesitatingly that he had no such intention, that I had not been men- 
tioned or referred to as in the remotest degree connected with the speculations com- 
mented upon, and this he repeated to a friend of mine who interrogated him on the 
subject. Indeed the paragraph itself does not allude to any person whatever. In 
addition to this, I think it due to myself to declare in the most emphatic manner 
that I never had any connection with the Bank of the United States ; that I never 
bought or sold or speculated in its stock directly or indirectly; and that I never 
aftorded any information of any kind to any person whatever, in relation to the 
Bank with a view to speculate in the stock. I feel that it is due to myself thus to 
meet and put down the slightest intimation of such an abuse of the confidence you 
have honored me with in relation to this subject." 

Doff Green to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, December 31, 1829. 
"Dear Sir: Yours of the 27th instant is before me. I, on the day before yes- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A.HAMILTON. 153 

terday, bad a conversation Avitli the President and explained'to him the whole mat- 
ter. As I wrote to you a few days since, I coupled the fact that on the same day 
that the article from the Daily appeared in the Journal^ I heard that a report 
was current in the streets tliat you had come here for the purpose of writing the 
President's message. I am glad to hear that the charge has not been made against 
you, and if you suspect any one else it is due to all others that I should say that the 
suspicion that the article was intended for you originated as 1 have stated. 

" Yours, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to Mons. le Baron de Sacken, &c., &c. 

" Washington, November 25, 1830. 

"Dear Sir: I thank you for the service you have rendered me by permitting 
me to be correctly informed by the perusal of the instructions, &c., themselves, of the 
principles which govern the allied Sovereigns. I regret, however, that the restric- 
tions under which I received that knowledge do not allow me so to use it as to ena- 
ble me to disabuse the public mind here on so interesting a subject. You may have 
remarked that notwithstanding the frequent avowals of the Executive of the United 
States of his confidence in the friendship of the Imperial Government — the repeated 
manifestations that the people of the United States have received of that friendship, 
the public sentiment here is poisoned by the belief that his Imperial Majesty and 
his Allies are engaged in a crusade against all representative governments. 

" With very great respect and regard, I remain, dear sir, 

" Your obedient servant, &c." 

Andrew J. Donelson, President's Private Secretary, to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington City, November 28, 1831. 

" Dear Sir : Allow me to tender to you and Mrs. Hamilton my thanks for the 
hospitable attention extended to Mrs. Donelson and her party during her recent 
visit to your city. It would have afforded me much pleasure to have shared them, 
but as I could not without neglecting my business here, I trust that you will not 
allow my account as your debtor to be at all diminished. You may have heard 
before this reaches you of the illness of the Pi-esident. He has been attacked with 
,^ the common intermittent fever of this place, and has been obliged to submit to the 
ordinary remedies. They liave not yet entirely broken the fever, but it is so much 
moderated that we look upon the patient as convalescent. The alarm of some of our 
friends may have prepared you for a less favorable account of this attack than this. 
Our family is otherwise in good health. Major Lewis and myself have both had 
attacks similar to those of the President, but less violent. 

" With my best wishes, &c., I am, with great respect, yours." 

The President, on 1st January, 1830, addressed to James A. Hamilton the 
following letter : 

" My Dear Sir : Your letter of the 22d ultimo was received in due course of 
mail, and in reply I have to observe that I regret you should have thought it neces- 
sary to declare to me that you had no agency in speculating in the bank stock or 
making advantage of your knowledge of my opposition to a recharteriug of the Bank 



154 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

of the United States. You are surely aware of iny exalted opinion of your virtue 
and honesty, and this must convince you that I thinlc you incapable of any thing 
dishonorable, dishonest or unfair. 

" The last paragrapli of Gen. Green's letter surprised me, and I sought an inter- 
view with him to be infoi*med on what he rested the assertion of Mr. Biddle's decla- 
ration with regard to me and my Cabinet being friendly to the recharter of the Bank. 
He gave ine the name of his informant and reasons for his belief that it was true ; 
for myself I cannot believe it ; for Major Biddle acknowledged my frankness to him 
on this subject to Major Lewis and others. I can scarcely believe that he, for the 
sake of vile speculation, would state what he knew to be false. But the longer we 
live the more we will learn of mankind, and I fear its morale is not improving as 

fast as I could wish it. Believe me your friend. 

" Andeew Jackson," 

Col. William B. Lewis to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, January 4, 1830. 
" Mt Dea'; Sir : Mr. Van Buren, I think, has much more to fear from his own than 
the friends of Mr. Calhoun. The publication in the New York Goiirier putting forth 
the claims of Mr. Van Buren as the successor of General Jackson, has produced a 
good deal of excitement here among a certain description of politicians, and I fear 
will do Mr. A^an Buren no good. The editorial article alluded to, was certainly very 
indiscreet and ill-timed. It will be supposed by some of the General's real friends, 
who do not understand the present state of things, that it evidences a disposition, on 
the part of Mr. Van Buren, to cut loose from him, and set up for himself. 

"Your friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to Andrew Jackson. 

"New Yoek, January 4, 1830. 

" Mt Deae Sib : I have the pleasure to enclose a few hints on the subject of 
Banks or Offices of Deposit, to assist the fiscal operations of the Treasury, and to 
establish a uniform currency. It is not expected that such an adjunct to the Treas- 
ury Department will perform all the functions of a Bank, in its general acceptation. 
Indeed the principal end of such an institution, which is, by means of its credit, to 
extend the circulating medium of the country to the limit which the laws of com- 
merce assign to it, is expressly denied to the managers of these Banks or Offices of 
Deposit. The issue of notes is confined to the actual deposits of Gold or Silver, or 
Bank-notes convertible into Gold or Silver, and at the standard value of those 
metals ; whereas a Bank of discount limits or ought to limit its issues, not by the 
amount of its specie capital and deposits, but by the amount of circulation which the 
commercial operations of the community can abs(>rb; and this can always be done 
without, or with a very small specie capital ; provided the business of the Bank is 
confined, as it ought invariably to be, to discounting business paper, or in other 
words, notes or bills of exchange, created by commercial interchanges. The pro- 
posed Banks or Offices of Deposit, consequently, will not have the power of assisting 
the Government or individuals by loans or advances in any emergency, a defect 
which may be seriously felt by both, should the country be exposed to war, but 
which is incident to their organization, and cannot be avoided without running tho 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 155 

risk of far greater evils. For it will be admitted that it would be liighly indiscreet 
to intrust the funds and the credit of the Government to the management of indi- 
viduals, unless their industry, vigilance and caution should be called into action by 
motives of strong personal and pecuniary interest; such an interest as the Directors 
of a Bank, who are stockholders, are supposed always to have in the institutions 
committed to their management. 

"As I do not mean to extend this letter to a dissertation upon Banking, I must 
return to the matter in hand. I have by marginal notes explained the reasons for 
the difterent j^rovisions of the project I have formed, and shall be happy if what I 
have done, or any part of it, can be in the slightest degree useful to you in building 
upon it a better plan. I intend to send you shortly a plan of a Bank of Discount as 
well as Deposit; which will not be obnoxious to any constitutional objection, be- 
cause it will be, like any other of its offices, exclusively under the direction and 
control of ihe Government. With truest attachment 

''I remain your friend." 

I.— A PROJECT TO CREATE OFFICES OF DEPOSIT IN AID OF THE FIS- 
CAL OPERATIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND TO ESTABLISH 
A UNIFORM CURRENCY. 

" 1st. Offices of Deposit shall be established in the several places following, viz. : 
New York, Philadelphia, &c., &c. (selecting such places on the seaboard and the 
interior, as are most convenient for receiving the public revenues, and such other 
places as Congress may from time to time direct). 

" 2d. These Offices shall be under the direction of five Commissioners (one of 
whom is to be designated as President), to be appointed as Congress may direct for 
one year, and not to be appointed longer than for three years in succession. 

" 3d. The respective Commissioners for the time being shall ha^e power to ap- 
point, with the approbation of the Secretary of the Treasury, a Cashier and such 
other officers, clerks and servants under them, as shall be necessary for executing 
the business of their said office, and to allow them, with the assent of the Secretary 
of the Treasury, such compensation as shall be reasonable, for their respective ser- 
vices. And the Commissioners shall exercise such other powers for the well-govern- 
ing and ordering of the said officers as shall be prescribed, fixed, and determined by 
the laws, regulations and ordinances of the said Office of Deposit. 

"4th. The revenues of the Government of the United States diall be deposited 
in the said offices, and be held by the said Commissioners in trust for the said Gov- 
ernment, or passed from time to time to the credit of the Treasurer of the United 
States, or such other officer as Congress may direct. 

" 5th. The said Commissioners of the said offices respectively shall furnish the 
Secretary of the Treasury from time to time, as often as he may require, not exceed- 
ing once a week, with statements of the amount of deposits made in their several 
offices, and also the amount of notes issued by them respectively ; distinguishing the 
amount of deposits on public and private account^, and the amount of specie and 
public stocks on hand : and the said Secretary shall have a right to inspect such 
general accounts of the books of the said office as shall relate to such statements, 
provided that this shall not be construed into a right in the Commissioners to give 
the names or amounts of individual deposits, or in the Secretary of the Treasury to 
inspect the accounts of any private individual or individuals with the said office. 



156 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

" 6th. The said Commissioners shall receive in deposit and hold in trust to the 
use of the person -who may deposit the same, any sum of money of any individual, 
or individuals, or body corporate, and give the depositor credit for the same. 

" 7th. The said Commissioners of the respective offices shall at the said office re- 
deliver to the depositor, upon his check, the amount of such deposit in gold or sil- 
ver coin, or in the notes of the said office payable on. demand in like coin ; deduct- 
ing from the amount of said deposit | of one per cent, for the safe keeping of the 
same. 

" 8th. Each depositor may, upon giving notice of his intention to leave in de- 
posit the money deposited as aforesaid in the said office for the term of ninety days, 
receive a note payable at the end of that time, with interest at the rate of (3^0 three 
per cent, per annum ; and if the said note shall be presented for payment and paid, 
before it shall have become due, the interest thereon shall not, nor shall any part 
thereof be paid. The Commissioners shall be at liberty, upon the presentation of 
any such post note before it shall fall due, to pay the same or not as the interest or 
convenience of the said office may dictate. If any post note shall not be presented 
at the office -vvherefrom it was issued, when it falls due or within three days after, 
the interest on said note when thereafter the same shall be paid, shall not be com- 
puted for a longer time than up to the date it became payable. 

" 9th. The said Commissioners may issue notes upon deposit, payable on demand 
or payable at the end of ninety days on interest as is above stated ; but no note shall 
be issued for a sum less than five dollars. All notes issued by the Commissioners of 
said offices respectively, shall be signed by the President and Cashier of such office, 
and shall be payable to the bearer at their offices respectively, in gold or silver coin ; 
and the good faith and the property of the United States is hereby pledged for the 
due, punctual and true payment of the notes of said offices, and the repayment of all 
deposits made therein. 

" The Commissioners of said offices respectively may, from time to time, under 
the direction, and with the assent, of the Secretary of the Treasury, invest in the pub- 
lic stocks of the United States, or of the several States, not more than ( ) per 
cent, of the gross amount of the deposits made in the respective offices. The said 
stock to be held by the said Commissioners in trust to pay tlie amount of the said 
deposits ; the notes issued thereon ; and the interest to accrue on such notes as may 
be at interest, as is hereinbefore stated : and they shall receive the interest on divi- 
dends on said stock and reinvest the same in the public stocks, which stocks shall 
be held by the said Commissioners in trust as aforesaid. 

" 11th. The notes or bills of the said Commissioners, originally made payable on 
demand, or which shall be past due, and payable on demand, shall be receivable 
in all payments to the United States unless otherwise directed by Congress. 

" 12th. The said Commissioners, when required by the Secretary of tlie Treasury, 
shall give the necessary facilities for transferring the public funds from place to 
place within the United States or the Territories thereof, and for distributing the 
same in payment of the public creditors ; and shall also do and perform the several 
and respective duties of the Commissioners of loans for the several States, or any 
one or more of them, wben required by law. 

"18th. As to counterfeiting notes, and as to frauds, adopt the 18th and 19th 
sections of Act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States, 
passed April 10th, 1826 (see lugersoll's Digest, edition of 1821, page 93), altering 
them so as to make them conform to this project. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 157 

II.— COLLECTION OF THE PUBLIC REVEiTUE. ] 

" 1st. All bonds, contracts or other agreements for the payment of money to the 
United States, as well as all money received by any of its officers or other persons, 
belonging to the United States, shall furthwith and withont delay be deposited for 
collection or safe keeping in such one of the said offices as shall be most convenient 
to the said officer or other person who may take the said bonds, &c., or collect and 
receive the said moneys, and as may be designated for thatpnrpose by the Secretary 
of the Treasury, the Postmaster-General, the Commissioners of the Land Office, or 
the agent of the Treasury. 

" 2d. The Collectors of the several ports of the United States shall daily and 
every day, as bonds are executed to secure the payment of duties of the United 
States, deposit the said bonds for collection in such one of the said offices of deposit 
as may be most convenient to the Custom House of said port, and shall be desig- 
nated by the Secretary of the Treasury, and the said Collector so depositing the said 
bonds shall be charged with the amount of the same, and the said Collector shall 
also daily, and every day, deposit in the said office all sums of money received by 
him in payment of duties, or in deposit to secure the payment of duties ; and the 
amount of all sums of money received by him for fees, fines, penalties, forfeitures or 
otherwise, and he shall be charged with the amount of the same. 

•' 3d. The said Collector who shall be so charged with the said bonds, or with 
the amount of money deposited by him, shall be discharged from the amount of such 
of the said bonds as shall be paid, whenever he shall transfer the amount paid 
thereon to the credit of the Treasurer of the United States, and also from the amount 
of such of the said bonds as are not paid, whenever they are transferred to the ac- 
count of the District Attorney of the United States in manner hereinafter mentioned : 
and the said Collector shall be also discharged from the amount of such of the said 
sums of money so deposited by and charged to him, as he shall disburse in the course 
of business or expenses of his office, in the manner hereinafter mentioned, or as he 
shall transfer to the credit of the Treasurer of the United States. 

" 4th. All payments by the said Collector shall be made upon his check, counter- 
signed by the Cashier, and made payable to the order of the person receiving the 
same ; and the said check shall on the back thereof contain a brief statement of the 
account for which the said check is given ; whether for a return of deposit, or for 
payment of salaries, or other expenses, and upon all payments so made, except for 
a return of deposit; the said Collector shall take receipts in manner and form as is 
now required by the regulations of his office. 

" 5th. Whenever any such bond, or bonds, shall remain unpaid on the day it falls 
due, it shall be the duty of the said Commissioner, immediately after the said office 
shall be closed, to cause a copy of said bond or bonds to be sent to the office of the 
District Attorney of the United States for the said district, and to charge him with 
the same in account with the said office, and the said District Attorney shall forth- 
with put the said bond in suit, and prosecute the same with effect ; and the said Dis- 
trict Attorney shall be discharged from the amount of the said bonds so charged 
against him, or such part thereof as shall be paid ; and he shall be discharged from 
such other part as shall not be paid, whenever he shall deposit in the said bank a 
certificate of the Clerk of the District Court in the district to which he is appointed, 
stating that a judgment has been recovered on such bonds, and that an execution has 



158 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

been issued thereon against the property of the defendant or defendants against whom 
the said judgment is entered, together with the certificate of the Marshal of the said 
or any other district that he has received such execution from the said Attorney; 
or whenever a suit is instituted upon any of the said bonds, and the parties to said 
bonds, or their legal representatives, cannot be fonnd, which shall be proved by a 
return of the Marshal of non est inventus to tliose writs of Capias issued three suc- 
cessive terms against the parties to the said bonds or to the legal representative of 
such of the said parties as are then dead ; and when the certificate of tlie clerk of 
the said court to tliat eifect is produced and deposited in the said office, the said Dis- 
trict Attorney shall be paid by the Collector from whence the said bond was re- 
ceived, his costs in said suit, to be taxed by the Judge of the Court in which the 
same was instituted, whenever the said District Attorney shall be discharged from 
the amount of any bonds so charged to him, provided the said costs have not been 
paid by the defendants in the said suits. 

" 6th. Tlie Marshal, who shall receive the said execution from the District At- 
torney, shall be charged with the amount directed to be levied thereupon, and shall 
be discharged from the same by payment into the said office of deposit tlie amount 
collected by him on the said execution or ujjon depositing in the said office of de- 
posit, a certificate of the Clerk of the said court, and of the said District Attorney 
that the said executions have been returned unsatisfied. 

" 7th. All furtlier proceedings for the purpose of recovering the amount due upon 
the said bond or judgments must be instituted upon a case siibmitted to the Agent 
of the Treasury and by his direction. 

" 8th. The receiver of moneys for the sale of lands must be required to make de- 
posits, &c., &c. (not being sufficiently acquainted with the course of these proceed- 
ings, I cannot make any provisions in regard to them. The same in regard to post- 
masters)." 

III.— DISBUESEMENT OF PUBLIC MONEY. 

" 1st. The regulations of the Treasury now existing in regard to the deposits, to 
the credit of the Treasurer, and of the several Post Offices in regard to deposits to 
the credit of the Postmaster-General, may be adopted and sanctioned by law, with 
such alterations as may be deemed salutary. 

" 2d. All moneys appropriated to the Treasury, and which may be drawn from it 
for the payment of the civil, miscellaneous, and diplomatic expenses, the Military 
Establishment, the Naval Establishment, and the Public Debt, shall, as the same or 
parts thereof may required, be carried in the respective offices of deposit most con- 
venient to the j)laces of such expenditure, when the same is within the United States, 
to the credit of the person or persons whose duty it may be to expend the same, and 
the said person or persons shall be charged with the several amounts so carried to 
their credit respectively. 

" 3d. The said person or persons shall not, on any pretence whatever, draw the 
said moneys from the said offices except when the same are required to be expended 
in the manner and for the purposes for which they have been carried to their credit, 
as aforesaid. 

" 4th. The said moneys shall only be drawn from the said oflSces, upon checks 
to the order of the person or persons entitled to receive the same, or his or their 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 159 

agents, and upon the back of the said check there shall be a brief statement of the 
object to which the amount for which the said checks is drawn is applied. The 
form of the said checks shall be devised by the Secretary of the Treasury and fur- 
nished to the several disbursing ofBcers of the Government at the respective offices 
of deposit in which they shall receive the credit aforesaid, and the said several sums 
so carried to their credit in the said office, and with which they are charged in account 
with the United States by the amount drawn on such checks, from the said office : 
provided, always, and it is here expressly declared, that the said disbursing officers 
and several Collectors of the Customs shall be held responsible, as they now are 
under the several Acts of Congress, for that purpose now in force, or which may be 
hereafter enacted, until their several accounts shall be audited and settled at the 
Department of the Treasury, in the same manuer that they are now required and 
directed by law to be credited and settled, and to that end they shall be required to 
take and furnish to the accounting officers of the Treasury, their accounts and 
vouchers at the time, and in the manner and form required by law, and the regula- 
tions now in force or which may hereafter be adopted to tliat end. The Commis- 
sioners of said offices shall not be allowed, as such Commissioners, to purchase or 
hold real estate, except such as shall be requisite for their immediate accommodation 
in the transaction of business, and such only by and with the advice and consent of 
the Secretary of the Treasury. Nor shall they be allowed, directly or indirectly, to 
purchase or hold in their official or individual characters any stock of the United 
States, or either of the States, except as is hereinbefore directed; nor shall the said 
Commissioners or any person or persons employed in their service deal or trade in 
Foreign Bills of Exchange, in buying and selling goods, wares, or merchandises or 
any commodities whatever, except Gold and Silver Coin and Bullion, and all or any 
person or persons by wliom any order or direction for so dealing or trading shall 
have been given, and all and any person or persons as shall have been concerned as 
parties or agents therein, shall forfeit and lose treble the value of the goods, wares, 
merchandises and commodities in which such dealing and trading shall have been 
carried on, one half thereof to the use of the informer, and the other half to the 
use of the United States. 

"J. A. Hamilton-." 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Bueen. 

" ISTew York, January 18, 1830. 
" My Deae Sir: Having understood, from various sources, that our commerce to 
the Black Sea and all other places that are supposed to be open to us by the Treaty 
«f Adrianople, is very rapidly increasing, it has occurred to me to suggest to you 
the propriety of your reviewing your determination as to leaving a Commercial 
Treaty to be formed in St. Petersburg. Much time, perhaps a year, will elapse be- 
fore anything can be done there, and the negotiation on the part of Kussia may then 
be committed to a person not entertaining the liberal and modern views on these 
subjects now entertained by Krudner ; but, above all, it is much to be feared that if our 
Yankee enterprise has time to show itself and to enter into competition with the 
Eussian navigators, such will be our superior success as to beget on their parts a dis- 
position by protection-privileges to overcome us, and when that appetite is once 
indulged, you know it is never satisfied. Krudner, it is said, intends to obtain leave 



160 KEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

of absence to return liome. If this is so, he Trould very promptly settle with you a 
Treaty of the most liberal character, in order to take it with him ; and you would 
thus avoid the danger of the many slips there are between the cup and the lip. If 
Eussia pushes down to the south of Europe, as she seems to be disposed to do, and 
if, as it is said, she has the best relations with China, she will inevitably become a 
first-rate commercial power. It thus becomes of the utmost importance to us, as 
well as to tlie rest of the commercial world, that her policy in the outset should be 
founded on sound principles, and in no way could that be so well secured, as by in- 
ducing her now, while she is in her very infancy in commerce, to proclaim in a Treaty 
with us such liberal and enlightened views as we are disposed to act upon with all 
the world. I have reflected much on this subject, and am anxious that you should 
avail yourself of the advantages which must result from such an event. It would 
give me pleasure to hear from you whenever you have leisure to write to me. 

" Yours, &c." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, February 2, 1830. 
"Mr Dear Sir: I thank you for your suggestions in regard to Russia. They 
shall not be lost sight of; but Krudner has as yet no instructions. We have had 
severe times here in relation to the old affair, and at one time I thought the official 
catastrophe would have been very striking. Appearances now indicate that things 
will soon wear a more placid aspect. I cannot be more particular, but will have 
much to say to you when I see you, which will, I hope, be soon. 

" Believe me to be very truly yours, &c." 

Louis McLane to James A. Hamilton. 

"London, February 4, 1830. 

" Mt Dear Sir : I received only on the lOtb instant your letter of the 15tli De- 
cember, which you had doomed to a most unnecessarily circuitous route. I feel very 
grateful to the President for his kind intentions toward me ; but I did not expect and 
could not have desired him in the instance you allude to, to go out of the circuit for 
a successor to the late Judge Washington. Ruinous as my stay here, upon my pres- 
ent salary, must be, I could not ask my removal at such a sacrifice, and I am quite 
content to look forward to the event in which you think a proper provision will be 
certain. I certainly think that in that event my State, which has never had a judge, 
would present a reasonable claim independently of the favorable view in which my 
friends are pleased to regard me personally. On that event I trust Van Buren will 
keep his eye. I am sorry I cannot give you some satisfactory account of my pro- 
gress here, which is, however, assailed by too many difficulties to be rapid or flatter- 
ing. I have already informed you of the expectations originally entertained with 
respect to the tariff"; but I knew very well from the beginning that tliey could not 
be realized and might prove injurious. I early placed all that matter truly, fairly, 
and unreservedly on its proper ground, and I no longer feel any serious concern on 
that account as it respects the ministry. Our danger is (and which is made particu- 
larly imminent by Mallory's report) that the general opposition to the ministry may 
dexterously employ this as a means of assault, and so intimidate the ministry, and 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 161 

prevent any arrangement with us. There can be no doubt that the spirit of opposi- 
tion to tbe Duke's administration woukl as readily seize upon any measure in our 
favor as they would upon any thing else. I do not doubt, myself, that the present 
Ministry will continue, but at present their power is scarcely sufficient, at least in 
tlieir own opinion, to permit them to make any serious change in their foreign rela- 
tions. My negotiation is a subject of great and constant excitement, and you would 
be surprised at tlie interest with which every conference I hold with Ministers is 
watched. The difficulty I most apprehend, grows out of the state of the British 
Northern Possessions, and in that there is great plausibility ^ if not force. It is not 
expected to continue them merely the carriers of our produce to the British "West 
India Islands. That was undoubtedly Mr. Canning's object, but they now allege 
that the present state of things has developed greater resources and demonstrated the 
capacity of the Canadas themselves to supply the Islands — that they do so already, with 
slight aid from their European voyages, and in two years more will do so altogether. 
Unfortunately, our commercial tables (which are palpably false, and ought never 
to be made to Congress again) give considerable encouragement to these expectations, 
by showing that our exports are short to all these places, to the amount of our pre- 
vious exports to the British West India Islands. Now, what Ministers fear is, to go 
into Parliament, and, after an arrangement with us, encounter the opposition in the 
face of such a state of things. And strange as it may seem, at the head of the oppo- 
sition on this particular topic would stand Mr. Iluskisson — notwithstanding the other 
parts of his colonial system, which he gave as the consideration of a direct trade 
between the West India Islands and the United States, are in full operation, while 
that trade has been accidentally lost. We are now, however, in full and earnest 
discussion on all these points, and it will be no fault of mine if we fail. The Message 
has produced an immense effect here. It ha$ elevated the country .^ and placed the Presi- 
dent and Secretary of State especially in the very highest ranlc in Europe of American 
statesmen. In its tone towards this country, it has practised a manly generosity, 
which it would be unpardonable folly in Ministers not to sustain ; and, as I have 
taken care to intimate to them, by some practical measure which would be no more 
than equivalent to the independence of our executive. God knows I always antici- 
pated enough from certain collisions ; and my apprehensions have by no means sub- 
sided. They will furnish the Vice-President a pretence for doing what he would 
not otherwise dare attempt. The Marquis Wellesley is not among the Premier's 
advisers (when at Wasliington, you thought he was), even remotely. For the pres- 
ent, take this short letter. I will write again by the next packet. 

'• Meantime, believe me, &c., &c., 

"L. MoLane." 

James A. Hamilton to Pkesidext Andrew Jackson. 

" New York, March 16, 1830. 
"My Deae Sir: We have news from London as late as the 10th February, em- 
bracing the King's Speech and the debates thereon, a part of which, together witli 
the former, I have the pleasure to enclose to you, as also the following extract on 
the subject of your Message from a private letter written by Messrs. Daniel Crom- 
melin & Co., the bankers in Amsterdam who made the late loan to the Ohio Canal, 
addressed to Mr. T. W. Ludlow of this city. These gentlemen deservedly rank 
11 



162 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

first among their countrymen as to wealth and intelligence. ' The President's Mes- 
sage seems generally to have made a good impression on the European public, and 
it certainly is able, correct, and manly, and cannot but create cordial good-will with 
all that are well-disposed towards a country and a government whose first Magis- 
trate comes forward with such sentiments. Tlie Message is indicative also of the 
general prosperity of the country. AVe hope to see the Message during many years 
fraught, on the whole, in the spirit of the present one. We duly observe what you 
mention on the subject of the United States Bank. If that establishment should be 
dissolved, we suppose Government will have to make some arrangement to carry on 
its concerns. The Government evidently wants some such financial agent for mani- 
fold purposes.' These are the opinions of men uninfluenced by political considera- 
tions, and are therefore the more to be valued as evidence of the views of the hon- 
est and intelligent portion of mankind who have the deepest interest in good govern- 
ment, 

" It is a singular thing to see Mr. Peel, iu the House of Commons, quoting the opin- 
ions of an American President in order to sustain himself and his party wiih his 
own countrymen. You will observe that Wellington admits that their deep and gen- 
eral distress in some measure results iroxa foreign competition — a most extraordinary 
admission of the eifect of our Tariff System ; and you will further observe that the 
King invokes his Piyliament not to forget what is due to the inviolability of the 
public credit. Thio latter, and last paragraph of the speecli proves that there is an 
extensive and growing disposition on the part of the people to relieve themselves 
fromJ;he public burthens, either by reducing the interest upon the debt or otherwise 
tampering with the public faitli. I have intended to write to you at large in relation 
to the state of things across the water, which I consider as uncommonly interesting 
to us in very many ways, and indeed so much so that the attention of an American 
statesman cannot be diverted from them for a moment ; but my fear of trespassing 
upon your time has deterred me. The excitement in France from plethora, and a 
spirit of liberty, and in England from starvation, cannot fail to produce important 
iresults. The Crown of Greece is the apple of discord between these Powers and 
-the great Northern Bear. 

■" With the truest attachment, your friend, &c." 

Louis McLane to James A. Hamilton. 

" I oxDOJf, March 22, 1830. 

"My Dear Sie : I received yesterday your letter sent through Mr. Ogden. I can 
'desire no safer mode of correspondence than that. My letters from him do not 
come tlirough the mail, and I comijiit my most confidential communications to that 
(Channel. The difficulties in Washington do not surprise me. I predicted them to 
, you early, and my wonder is that they are not more serious. I always felt that Gen- 
eral Jackson had thrown away a vast portion of moral weight which he might have 
secured, and though I believed his unsullied patriotism, unquestionably good inten- 
tions, and his strung popularity, T^'ould stand the loss, I trembled for the future £is it 
regarded his administration and his party. I am too remote to say how it can be 
cured, or whether there be any other remedy than the natural. course of the disease. 
My great and secure confidence is in the sagacity of Van Buren in unison with the 
President. I believe the most probable combination or coalition of parties will be 



REMINISCENCES OP JAMES A. HAMILTON. 163 

that of Calhoun, McLean, and Webster. Clay must be liors de comhat. Such a co- 
alition is in many respects natural and easy. A provision for the respective leaders 
will be the only difficulty ; but that will not be insuperable, if indeed it be greater 
than similar difficulties in any possible direction. Col. Hayne will not perceive his 
defeat is as great as accounts would make it. Imagining himself equal at least to 
Webster, he will not refuse to act, under other circumstances, on the same side, and 
there is nothing in the principles of the former that will be likely to keep them 
asunder. If I may venture to hazard an opinion at so great a distance from the 
scene, on a subject in wljich I feel so deep an interest, it would be to ohlige tiie 
President to stand his hand once more; and seasonably, without further delay, to 
devise some means of concert for the future action and preservation of the party. 
Would to God I had remained in the Senate, and suffered some other man to pine 
and starve at this conrt in the midst of pomp and splendor ! 

" I am still ignorant of the fate of my negotiation. They will act badly, and 
without possible excuse, if, after so much delay, they decide against us. I adopted 
the suggestion of Ministers, and committed to paper some general considerations 
connected with the present state of the negotiations. I threw it in the form of a 
note, requiring an answer without longer delay, and I am now waiting their answer. 
I have abandoned all the abstract points of previous negotiations, and endeavored 
to meet practically the real objections thrown in my way. I feel tliat I have not 
been wanting in zeal and fidelity in the negotiation, and the pain I have endured 
under this responsibility will be very apt to secure me, in the end, the approbation 
of my own conscience, at least. 

" In consequence of a letter I received yesterday from Washington, I had intended, 
when I commenced this letter, to write you frankly about our ow^n affairs. My sheet 
is out, however ; and this being my despatch day, I postpone it till the next packet. 

"Meantime, believe me yours, &c. 

"P. S. You will, I hope, excuse the slovenliness of this scrawl." 

Memorandum! March 29, 1830.4—1 left New York early to-day for Wash- 
ington, and arrived there, and at Mr. Van Buren's bouse, where I stopped, on 
the 31st, at about 3 o'clock P. M. I visited the President (Jackson) in the 
eveninsr, who received me with the warmest cordiality. We passed an hour 
alone. During the time he related to me a variety of incidents connected with 
the course of Congress, and among others, speaking of the delay which had oc- 
curred in the Senate in passing upon his nominations, he told me that he had 
been advised to call his Cabinet together, and urge its members to use their in- 
fluence with the members of the Senate to induce them to take up and confirm 
the nominations — to which I replied. He said : " No, never, I have done my 
duty, let the Senate do its duty ; it shall never be said that I attempted by any 
measures to influence the deliberations of Congress; if they do not do their 
duty, the people must pass between us. The various measures recommended 
in ray Message have been neglected. We shall see, my friend, more of this 
hereafter." I replied that it was to be feared the course of Congress had been 
influenced by considerations connected with the next election, and that to secure 
to himself a successful administration during four years be must consent to 



164 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

serve one other term ; in that way alone will the anticipated divisions between 
his friends be prevented. He replied that he had much to say to me on that 
subject on a future occasion — that it was a subject of great difl&culty ; he had 
determined to ascertain who were his friends. 

We then conversed about the rejection of Lee and Decatur's nominations- 
Hs to the former, he said : " I deeply regret it on his account. He is in abso- 
lute want. He has talents and information sufficient for any station, and as to 
his former highly objectionable conduct, I reprobate it as much as any man, but 
still I am willing to believe, and have no doubt, that the man has repented; and 
are we called upon to punish forever ? Is there notliing due to repentance ? 
There is a vindictive spirit in that course, which I cannot believe is justifiable. 
As to Decatur, I have been requested to give him some other place of less im- 
portance, which would not require the approval of the Senate, but that I have 
flatly refused ; if he is unworthy, I cannot well do for him more than I have al- 
ready done." (The person here referred to was John P. Decatur.) 

I then mentioned to him that Van Buren was in the other room with the 
ladies, and proposed that we should join him. He acquiesced, saying, " You 
have come to quarter with me ?" I said, "No, I am with Van Buren." He 
replied, " Then let me see as much of you as I can." We then joined the ladies. 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, May 3, 1830. 

" My Deae Sir : Your letter of the 29th ultimo, marked private, reached me this 
morning ; I liasten to answer it. Mr. Forsyth lias made no communication to me as 
yet; should lie, you shall at .^n early day be apprised thereof and with its contents. 

"I find from your letter that you have not seen Mr. McDuflBe's Report upon the 
U. S. Bank. I herewith send it to ynu ; I presume it to be, a joint effort, and the 
best that cin be made in its support, and it is feeble. This is intended, no doubt, 
as the first shot ; it wil] pass without moving me. 

"I will thank you for your idea.s on this report when leisure will permit. 
Although intended to wound me. it will not injure me. but it will not go un- 
answered when a proper time arrives. Let me hear from you soon, and 

" Believe me your friend, 

" Andrew Jackson." 

Louis McLane to James A. Hamilton. 

" London, May 27, 1830. 

"Mt Deak Sie: I received only Monday last your letter of the 16th ultimo, for 
which I make you my thanks. 

" I need the approbation and confidence — which, in my heart, I feel that I 
deserve — of the President, in relation to my conduct liere, to console me for the 
bad behavior with which 1 fear this Government will be ultimately chargeable. I 
have found my efforts wholly unavailable to force an answer to my proposition. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 165 

They constantly deny all unworthy motive, and I believe Lord Aberdeen is a man 
of truth and honor. But still they have allowed one session of Congress to pass 
over, and in this way have deprived us — unless Congress shall have acted provision- 
ally — of the opportunity of countervailing measures (if they reject our overtures) 
until next winter. I trust Confjress will have acted. I early expressed to Mr. Van 
Buren the necessity of doing so, and sent him my exposition of the question for the 
purpose of apprizing Congress of the real state of the case. I prepared that paper, 
on an official suggestion, to place my reasoning in the way of more ready and certain 
reference; and I framed it as containing an argument by ■which the Ministry might 
sustain anarrangementagaiiist the opposition in Parliament, and especially against Mr. 
Huskisson. They admit it to be able, and, themselves, found it as difficult of an 
answer as the opposition would do. Nevertheless, the tenor of the opposition 
remains, and the Canadian interests maintain their ground. I consider Mr. Huskis- 
son one of our worst enemies, and as probably at the head of a class of politicians 
I'espectable in numbers and talent and iuHueuce, who are certainly jealous of our 
prosperity. 

" Huskisson is unworthy the reputation he has as the advocate of free trade. 
He is the infatuated advocate of British Namgation, and he would to-morrow 
sink ours to the bottom of the ocean, if he could. I believe lie thought the 
scale of duty imposed by the British Act of 1825 would indirectly, but effectually, 
exclude us from the direct trade with the "West Indies ; and finding this expectation 
disappointed in the short time the Act was in force, he urged the order in 
council of 1826, and is now bitterly opposed to any adjustment. Therj never 
intended the Act of 1825 to he leneficial to its. They mean to raise up the 
Canadas as our rivals. They have the double motive of profiting by their i)ro3- 
perity, and, by cherishing their jealousy of us, of precluding the possibility of their 
falling into our hands. It is in vain to deny the jealousy and apprehension of our 
power and prosperity, of many classes (and some of them of talent and power and 
influence) of the English population. When we have inspired the Government 
with respect, and a friendly disposition towards us, we have only put a smooth 
covering over the mouth of the volcano. The elements of eruption are beyond our 
reach, and continue to give out threatenings enough to awe the Ministry from any 
decisive and friendly course ; if, indeed, they do not ere long burst forth. I long ago 
suggested the idea of a Charge d'AflPaires to Mr. Van Buren. Every day persuades 
me of the propriety of that suggestion, and I could, if I had space, advert to many 
considerations not to be disregarded. 1 hope I am incapable from interested motives 
of attaching too much importance to the personal consideration of its enabling the 
President to withdraw me without incurring the charge of an additional outfit. 
But I am fast approaching insolvency here, in the midst of discomfort, and without 
having it in my power to benefit my country, and shall be really unhappy when the 
negotiation shall be closed unfavorably, as there is too much reason to believe it 
will be. This Government will not touch any other point in nur relations. The 
past Administration refused to do so; and thepresent are shamefully afraid of tread- 
ing in a new path. I could be of infinitely more service to Van Buren, the Presi- 
dent, and the country, if I were at home. Events will necessarily force V:in Buren 
to rely on the strength of the administration. Callioun's impatience and resentful 
temper will do this, and therefore it is the more necessary to give the administration 
weight— I mean moral and intellectual weight, the only securities for public confi- 



166 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

dence. "Without these, it will invite opposition from all quarters, and become'absolutely 
injurious. Besides, it is absolutely necessary that the next winter should open with 
a system of measures and jmlicy founded on the jyrinciples of Van Bureii's toast, 
calculated to tranquilize and unite the public mind, and hiisli the voice of faction 
and sectional disaffection. In this way General Jackson may yet acquire a renown 
equal to his best expectations, and, while he renders so patriotic a service to his 
country, will give strength and success to his party. 

"If Calhoun and McLean coalesce, Webster will, nay must, be of the firm. lie 
is not wider asunder from loth of them on grounds ofpuMic policy than they are 
from each other. Besides, McLean must bring the East and West both into alliance 
with some of the Soiith. This will be necessary to success, and they will not object 
to Calhoun if he can add a portion of the South, especially if the East can be cajoled 
with the hope of Protection. Where can Webster make as good terms? But, 
at any rate, they will all be opposed to the Administration, and this is a new motive 
barely to recommend that to the sound public opinion of the country. I tliink the 
Senate have acted unpardonably towards the President, and the party and the 
nation. I have been confounded at their course, and have regretted most deeply 
that I ever quit my seat. I might at least have prevented that evil. It is impossi- 
ble that some evil spirit is not at work in that body, otherwise the reckless course of 
the ojjposition must liave united the majority in spite of all men's dislike ; but I con- 
fess I want the clue to some of the rejections. 

" You would be amused to see how this Government writhes under the proposi- 
tion that our trade, direct or indirect, is necessary to the West Indies ; and that 
therefore to that extent we are entitled to have it direct in common with other 
nations. They are now in great commotion at the abdication of Leopold. I am not 
sure that this has not been induced by the expectation of the King's death, and 
Leopold's influence in that event. It may be a rallying-point with the opposition. 
The King's death, however, is an afiiiir of weeks only ; but no change will better us — 
rely on it, we are destined to no favors. But, adieu, and pardon this hasty letter." 

Martin Van Boken to James A. Hamilton. 

"May 31, 1830. 
"My Dear Sik : McLanc has not yet got liis answer, but I am confident he will 
succeed. If Lynch, on his return, complains of him, let me know, and I will explain 
the cause. I have despatches to-day from Eives and Ehind. Expect good things in 
all quarters, but say nothing. What think you of the President's Veto Message? 
We have had severe times for a few days, but the session closed very auspiciously. 
The President will go to the Hermitage about the middle of the month. I shall be 
detained again by my ministers until July. Randolph is to sail on the 15th July. 

"My last letter from McLane is the 22d April. Lord Aberdeen said that the 
Ministry might be considered* as upon the point of a decision. 

"Very truly, yours, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Andrew Jackson. (Private). 

" Js^EW York, June 3, 1830. Midnight. 
" My Dear Sir : I have just completed the whole subject, except that which 
will treat of the first point made in the Report ; and upon that I shall be very brief, 



REMINISCENCES OP JAMES A. HAMILTON. 1G7 

combating merely some of the arguments put forth in the Eeport,* and referring to 
those in opposition to the power which has heretofore been urged, and then I have 
done. I fear I have been already too diffusive and too caustic. The subject grew 
upon me as I advanced, and my feelings of disapprobation of the authors of the 
flimsy and unfair Report became more excited as those characteristics became more 
apparent. You will, having the whole before you, temper and expunge such parts 
as may require either. 

"Mr. Van Buren informs me, by a letter I received to-day, that you would set 
out for the Hermitage in the course of this month. I trust you intend to take New 
York in your way. If you should not so intend, I should like to know when you 
leave Washington, in order that, if I can find time, I may run away to Washington 
to pass a single day and night with you. So many events of deep interest have 
occurred since I left you, that I feel the strongest desire to converse with you in the 
unreserved manner I have heretofore been permitted to do. With my most earnest 
prayers for your continued health and happiness, I remain your sincere friend, &c." 

President Andrew Jackson to Col. James A. Hamilton. (Private.) 

"Washington, June 3, 1830. 

"My Deae Sib: Your letters of the 28th and 30th ultimo, with the remarks 
accompanying them, have been received, but the hurry and bustle incident to the 
adjournment of Congress have prevented me from answering until now. 

" I have had no conversation with Mr. McDuiEe on the subject of Banks ; nor 
never did I conteinplate such as in his imagination he has assumed, and recom- 
mended in his Report. ; I have often spoken of a National Bank chartered upon the 
principles of the checks and balances of our Federal Government, with a branch in 
each State, the capital apportioned agreeably to representation, and to be attached 
to and be made subject to the supervision of the Secretary of tlie Treasury, and an 
expose of its condition be made annually, in his report to Congress, as part of the 
revenue; which might be a bank of deposit only, which I have always thought more 
consistent with our Government than that it should become a brokers' or banking 
establishment for discount and deposit. But if the Federal Government should 
have anything to do in banking establishments, beyond that of a safe deposit for our 
revenue ; which might give aid to our fiscal concerns in a state of war, then it should 
belong to the nation exclusively ; all its emoluments to accrue to the nation, to the 
whole people, and not to a few moneyed capitalists to the exclusion of the many ; 
and I have no doubt but it could be so guarded in the charter, that it would be less 
dangerous to the liberties of our country than the present hydra of corruption, so 
dangerous to our liberties by its corrupting influences everywhere, and not the least 
in- the Congress of the Union. I showed you, when here, my ideas on a bank 
project, both of deposit (which I think the only national bank that the Government 
ought to be connected with) and one of discount and deposit, which, from the suc- 
cess of the State Bank of South Carolina, I have no doubt could be wielded profit- 
ably to our Government, and with less demoralizing effects upon our citizens than 
the bank that now exists. But a national^ entirely national bank of deposit is all 
we ought to have: but I repeat, a national bank of discount and deposit maybe 



* Report made by Mr. McDuffie, which I was called upon to review. 



108 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

estabjished upon our revenue and national faith pledged, and carried on by salaried 
officers, as our revenue is now collected, with less injury to the morals of our citi- 
zens and to the destruction of our liberty, than the present hydra of corruption, and 
all the emoluments accrue to the nation as part of the revenue. \ And I loish your 
ideas of a plan of each when leisure presents itself. 

" I have examined your remarks enclosed. I return tliem, that Mr. Calhoun's 
name maybe striclcen out. From a correspondence lately between him and myself, 
ill which I was obliged to use tlie language of Cajsar, ' Et tii, Brute ? ' it might be 
thought to arise from personal feeling, and arouse the sympathy of the people in his 
favor. You know an experienced general always keeps a strong reserve, and here- 
after it may become necessary to pass in review the rise and progress of this hydra 
of corruption, when it will be proper to expose its founders and supporters by name. 
Then, and then only, can his name be brought with advantage and propriety before 
the nation. I return it for this correction, which, when made, and two following 
numbers forwarded with it, I will have them published in the Telegraph. This is 
the paper, for more reasons than one. I have attempted five times to write you this 
scrawl, and have been a dozen of times interrupted since I commenced it. You 
must receive it as it is. I have no time to correct it. 

" Your friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to a Fkiend, 

" WAsniNGTosr, June 15, 1830. 
" I arrived here yesterdiy at 10 o'clock, A. M. — went immediately to see the 
President, who was looking fur me, as I learned from Van Buren, with some anxiety. 
We immediately retired to his private room, first read over his correspondence with 
Cilhoun (the latter admits that he was in favor of a hostile course as it respects the 
General in the Seminole business), and, next, to talk over Mrs. Eaton, &c. This 
matter is in greater extreme now than heretofore. Eaton or Donelson will, I fear, 
retire. Lastly, we conferred upon other general matters — the Messages (general 
and particular), the Light House bill, &c., &c. After spending some time thereon, 
I went to ride with Van Buren; returned to dine with the President, who insisted 
upon my remaining with him during the night, the greater part of which we passed 
in conversation about Ingham, Eaton, Branch, McLane — changes — the course to be pur- 
sued during the next session of Congress — its complexion — Mr. Calhoun — Van Buren, 
&:c., &c. We retired very late. We are to meet again this evening, to confer more 
at large." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

" New York, June 7, 1830. 

" Mt Dear Sir : Your kind letter of tlie 3d instant was received to-day, 
together with Nnmber 1, which I have altered in the manner you suggested, and in 
such other respects as wei'e suggested to my mind on its perusal ; and I have the 
honor to enclose it herewith. The last part was forwarded on Sunday. You can- 
not do any act that will be more gratifying to me than to return any of the otlier 
portions as you have done this, with your intimations for the purpose of revision 
and amendment, for you will thus evince your confidence in my desire to serve you. 
I hope at my earliest leisure to be enabled to put in the form of heads for a Bill, 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 1G9 

such a scheme of a Bank of Discount and Deposit as you have suggested. At the 
same time I must differ from you in the opinion you have expressed that it ought to 
be exclusively in the hands of the Government and its paid officers. A bank of deposit 
may be safely so arranged, but it will want the ability in certain exigencies to aid the 
fiscal operations of the Government which a bank of discount and deposit would 
possess, while the latter could hardly be safely left to the direction of persons who 
were not interested in the fiiithfnl and cautious administration of its affairs. I have 
thought of a plan in which the credit and revenues of the Government would be 
the foundation, and with which individual interest could be united in such a way as 
to preserve a preponderance to the Government, and in which the direction would 
be so managed aa that the Government would appoint the whole — one half of its 
own mere volition, uninfluenced by the interference of the individuals interested, 
and the other half to be appointed from a list of nominees chosen by the individuals 
interested ; which should be submitted to the President for his selection ; the 
President of the Institution to be appointed by Government, the Cashier by the 
Pi-esident and Directors. The difiiculties to be avoided on the one hand and the 
other are these : a bank, the capital of which should be furnished by the Government 
under the direction of paid officers, would be exposed, 1st, to the danger of having 
its funds loaned to irresponsible persons who might be of the family or friends of 
the directors, and thus wasted and destroyed ; and next, that these directors, influ- 
enced by the power which created them, might use this money with reference to 
political influence, and thus endanger the purity of our institutions, as well as waste 
the capital. The only way I now see in which these evils can be avoided, is to secure 
the untiring watchfulness of individual interest, always better managers of pecuniary 
concerns simply, than Governments are ; and so are private individuals better than 
corporations ; to permit them to purchase a part of the capital thus furnished, for 
Avhich tlie Government will be paid at par (and thus raise the means to discharge 
its debt, if that should not have already been done), and for which and no more 
it will ultimately be responsible. But it is quite clear that individuals will not so 
invest their funds unless they can participate in the management of the bank ; for 
they will naturally say, a bank exclusively under the direction of persons appointed 
by Government may go on very well in time of peace, but in war, when the Govern- 
ment wants means, these directors will lend the whole capital and credit and all to it. 
I would, therefore, to secure the confidence of the Government and individuals, form 
a direction in the manner I have stated, and I would superadd that no individual 
loan should be made without a concurrence of two out of three of the public direc- 
tors ; or to the Government, without the sanction of two out of three of the private 
directors. I throw out these suggestions for your consideration just as they occur 
to me. With all this I would connect so much of that part of the plan of a bank of 
deposit, which 1 sent to you, as would secure the faithful disbursement and safe- 
keeping of (he public revenues. I had intended to have thrown out some hints of a 
plan of a bank, but my time is so little my own, as to compel me to defer them to 
a future day. With the truest attachment, your friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to Louis McLane. (Private — strictly confidential.) 

" New York, June 27, 1830. 
^ " My Deau Sm; I passed two days with the President immediately preceding 



170 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

the day of his departure for the Ilermitage, by his invitation. The veto — the Eaton 
business, which is at the highest point of excitement— a difterence with Calhoun — 
were subjects of frequent conversation between us, and will be attended with the 
most important efiects. As I am not at liberty, if I had time or inclination, to go 
over the whole ground, I will merely communicate as much of what is determined 
upon as is particularly interesting to you. You may have learned, from my former 
letters, or from Van Buren, that the President had been urged by a large number of 
the Pennsylvania Delegation to i-eraove Ingham, and that he had been advised by 
Van Buren, and other friends, not to do so. At my last visit I ascertained that the 
President, for various causes, had lost confidence in Ingham, and that sooner or 
later a rupture would take place. 1 therefore made up my mind to advise a change. 
I told Van Buren and Lewis that I intended to do so, and my reasons for the deter- 
mination, in which the latter immediately, and the former hesitatingly, acquiesced. 
At our next interview I told the President plainly that it was impossible for him to 
get along with Ingham ; that a change ought to be made ; and that, in my opinion, the 
only question was as to the time and manner of effecting it. I then went into an 
examination of their relations — the reasons why Ingham could not cordially sup- 
port the President, and the grounds there were to fear a want of unanimity and cor- 
diality in the Cabinet. He listened with pleasing attention ; told me he fully concur- 
red with me, and said, with his usual promptitude, that as soon as your negotiation 
was successfully terminated, you would return, when lie would offer your place to 
Ingham. And this, my good friend, was at length fidly and entirely settled. You 
are not to understand that T was so to inform you, nor would I have done so, but 
that, in conversation with Van Buren after he had heard the same determination 
from the President, he told me Tie intended to write to you on the subject. You 
must, therefore, consider this information as strictly confidential. I presuine, should 
the King be alive, that you will have closed the matter by this time. From your 
last letter, received by Van Buren, I infer that the Duke of "Wellington's hesitation 
has two objects ; one, to gain time, the other, to obtain that assurance of an acquies- 
cence on our part, wliich the late act of Congress in regard to the colonial trade will 
give him. After the Treasury, the Attorney-General must be changed. I regret to 
say that I fear either Donelson or Eaton must remain in Tennessee. Most probably, 
the latter will prevail, although the former would be the most serious loss. lie is a 
high-minded man, of much knowledge and talents, with discretion above all praise ; 
but has been strangely involved by his wife and Calhoun in the Eaton business. 
Send me the testimony, etc., taken by a Committee of the Commons on the subject 
of the Scottish Banks in 1826 ; a copy of the act establishing the Bank of Eng- 
land ; Drummard's Treatise on Currency, and any other good works on Banking. 
I pray you not to delay this commission, and to inform me in what manner I am to 
repay any expense it may expose you to. 

" Yours, &c." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, July 5, 1830. 
" Deae Sir : The enclosed is, in substance, the same with a letter of the same date 
to me. I have sent him new instructions upon the subject of time to be allowed to the 
British Government for an answer, so that it be in season for the present session. He 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. lYl 

is quite impatient, and sees the matter in a different lijilit on different days. I Lope it 
will go well in the end. I should like to talk to you about private affairs here, to 
gratify curiosity, but cannot write tliem. The mail is too insecure, and it is of no 
real importance. I would like, moreover, to check your fondness for gossip instead 
of feeding it. Things are no better than when you were here. The old Chief's zeal 
for his friend increases with the pressure, and disposition not to meddle in the mat- 
ter, on the part of those not already committed, is growing every day. You will 
see Eaton's card in to-day's Telegraph. You saw the violent attack in that paper 
upon Baldwin. The President sends him (Baldwin) in as Judge of the Supreme 
Court to-day. Say nothing of this as coming from me. It is a step which wil. 
create no inconsiderable sensation. 

" Yours truly, &c." 

President Andrew Jackson to Col. James A. Hamilton. 

"Heemitage, July 12, 1830. 

" Mt Dear Col. : T have just received yours of the 27th of June last, accompa- 
nying Mr. Malibran's * petition, which I have herewith enclosed and referred, to yoa 
for your report of the truth of the facts stated in his petition. 

" I reached this place on the 6th inst. ; found my farm in good order, and my 
family in good health, my crop suffering for the want of rain. I have been con- 
/stantly in a crowd since I left the city, although I have declined all public dinners, / 
^ and, really, I wish I could return to it in an air-balloon, to avoid the great fatigue I ^" 
have encountered on my way hither. I have every reason to believe that my veto 
will be sustained by a large majority of the people of the United States. Be this as 
it may, one thing I do know, that the faithful discharge of my constitutional duties 
pointed to the course I adopted, and I pursued it without inquiring who would or 
might condemn or approve the measure. I am always happy to hear of Mnjor Ea- 
ton's increasing popularity and prosperity. I have long known him, and a more vir- 
tuous, honest man does not exist. He is worthy of confidence, and will never vio- 
late it. I have agreed to meet my fellow-citizens on to-morrow in Nashville, to give 
them a shake by the hand and friendly greeting. 

" ilajor Eaton and his lady have not reached me. "What delays him, I have not 
heard. Until he arrives I cannot commence my arrangements with the Indians — a 
subject I have much at heart ; and as soon as it is acted upon, I will hasten back to 
the city to attend to my duty there. 

" With my respects to your lady and family, believe me 

" Your friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Andrew Jackson. 

"New York, July 23, 1830. 
"My Dear Sir: I congratulate you upon your arrival at your peaceful abode, 
whore I hope you will enjoy that tranquillity which is denied to you elsewhere. I 
intend to send to you, with this letter, a debate which occurred in the House of 



* The liusband of the famous vocalist. He was on the gaol limits. She had returned to Eu- 
rope, lie was discliarged, immediately went to France, where he found she was married to 
another m;in. Her maiden name was Garcia. 



172 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Commons of a character deeply interesting to us. The impudent assumption of a 
right asserted on the floor of that House to extend their right to interfere to preserve 
a halance of power in this quarter of the globe, is unequalled. That nation has ex- 
tended its hands to every quarter of the world for the purpose of creating a colonial 
dependence upon her power. She now contains more than eighty millions of souls, 
distributed throughout every continent and sea, she herself not amounting to more 
than twelve millions ; and yet presumes to create alarm at a disposition in our 
Government to extend its control over a contiguous territory which is almost with- 
out population. And to what end ? in order that this territory may be cultivated 
by a hardy race of freemen, who will enjoy all the blessings of a free and liberal 
government; in the direction of which they will participate in common with every 
other member of the nation. From all I learn, I very much fear that our negotia- 
tion will not be successful, unless the late Act of Congress should, by depriving the 
Duke of all pretence for refusal, obtain that from their sense of shame which their 
sense of justice could not induce, 

"Yours truly, &c." 

Louis McLane to James A. Hamilton, 

"Lo^•DO^-, August 19, 1830, 

"My Deae Sir: My despatches by this packet will announce the gratifying suc- 
cess of my negotiation. This Government finally assents to restore us the direct 
trade with the colonies upon the terms of my proposition. And an alteration of the 
present schedule, though intimated as probably to be made hereafter, is no part of 
the arrangement, and cannot take place for some time. When it does happen, it 
will, on the whole, do us no material injury. The President's Proclamation will be 
the first step. The revocation of the British order in Council of 1827, the abolition 
of the discriminating duties on American vessels in the colonial ports, and the con- 
cession to us of the advantages of the Act of Parliament of 5th July, 1825, will 
follow. This success needs no comment from me. It will speak for itself; and re- 
membering all I have sufl:ered, all I have risked, and looking to the consequences to 
my friends and country in future, I feel less of exultation than gratitude for the 
result. But Cambreling's law — I call it his, for he drafted it — may mar the lustre 
of this victory. You must prevent it. It had liked to have ruined every thing. 
We were saved by the honorable frankness with which our Government had uni- 
formly borne themselves towards this. They reject the unfavorable construction of 
which they fear the law is susceptible, and adopt that which they hope and believe 
it was intended to receive, I think their fears are scarcely plausible, though but in 
one clause; and that is the one in the 1st Section, in the following words: 'that 
the vessels of the United States may import into the said Colonial Possessions from 
the United States any article or articles which could he imported in a British Vessel 
into the said PossessioTis from the United States.^ Now, the Act of Parliament of 
5th July, 1825, opening this trade, expressly confines the articles to be imported in 
vessels of the United States to the produce of the United States. Their Navigation 
Act of the same date makes the same express limitation. And even our Commercial 
Convention with Great Britain limits the trade in vessels of the United States to the 
European ports to produce of the United States. My instructions agree to comply 
with the conditions of the Act of 1825, and to accept the advantages of t?iat Act. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 173 

My proposition to tLis Government is in the very words of my instructions; but if 
Mr. Cambreling's bill means to insist upon the right of American Vessels to import 
into the Colonies other than Ameriean produce, it is not a compliance with the Act 
of 1825. It asks what that Act never offered — what Great Britain does not give in 
her trade with any of her ports to any nation in the world, and never will to us or 
any one else. The truth is, the law was drafted in a hurry, without a sufficient 
understanding of all the complicities of the trade. But take care that the technical- 
ities of the Attorney-General do no harm. Take the renl good sense of the subject ; 
be satisfied that the main scope of the law intends us to execute an arrangement 
consistent with the instructions; and then construe this clause in subservience to 
the great end and design of the Act. 

" I have no time for any more. My public despatches and letter to Van Buren 
will contain my arguments on this law. I think you or Cambreling had better go 
oft' to Washington, or perhaps both — though my public despatches, I think, will do 
every thing. You must not let the stir about the French Revolution deprive the 
Administration of the advantages of this arrangement. 

"Yours, &c." 

Maktin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" "Washington, September 10, 1830. 
"MtDeaeSie: Give yourself no uneasiness about the conduct of * * * *. it 
does not belong to my notions of justice to make one man answerable for the follies 
of another. I know you well, and that is enough. Between us there never can be 
any difficulty, except through gross misunderstanding; for I know that you cannot 
intentionally do wrong, and I am conscious that I do not wish to do so. I reproached 
myself for having shown you the letter, lest it might mortify you. Once for all, 
never let such an apprehension disturb you. * * * Washington looks well, and the 
weather is very pleasant. If you see Mr. Rhind, which you will do soon, if he is not 
already with you, caution him against giving publicity to the dispute with his col- 
leagues. From your letter I supposed, or feared, he might go directly to Major 
Noah, and I therefore cautioned the latter upon the suliject. 

"Very truly, yours, &:c." 

The Collector, Swartwout, was so entirely ignorant of the laws which regu- 
lated his duty, and of the course of the business of his oflBce, that he required 
the District Attorney's services in resolving questions and difficulties from day 
to day — so much so, that I was requested to come every morning to the Custom 
House to aid him in the administration of his duties. 

One morning, when sitting near bis table within the railing which excluded 
the people who came to see him on business, awaiting Swartwout's arrival, the 
Cashier, Mr. Henry Ogden, placed on the table a check on the bank for five 
thousand (5000) dollars, drawn payable to the order of Samuel Swartwout, 
Collector. When the Collector came in, taking his accustomed seat at his table, 
he read the check, endorsed it, and looking around the circle of persons standing 
outside the rail, went over to a gentleman I knew as well as a brother, and 



174 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

delivered that check to him without taking therefor any receipt or voucher of 
any kind, or any paper which indicated that the check was paid in connection 
with the business of his office. 

I knew the gentleman was a speculator with very slender means, and that 
he had no commercial business whatever (indeed, Swartwout, after his failure, 
told me he had speculated in real estate with that gentleman). Nothing was 
said at the time on the subject. I was convinced that this was an appropria- 
tion of the public money to his private use. 

After going through with the business on which I came, returning to my 
office, I turned this event anxiously in my mind — was satisfied that it was a great 
wrong — and asked myself what my duty as a public officer and a personal friend 
of the President required me to do. I concluded that as a public officer I was 
bound to take care of the public interests, and that it was my duty to commu- 
nicate what I had seen and my opinions to President Jackson. I did so imme- 
diately, and at the same time suggested that I could devise a scheme which 
would check such a course, or expose its detection at the Treasury Department. 
The President acknowledged the receipt of my letter, approved of what I had 
done, and informed me that he had sent my letter to the Secretary of the 
Treasury. 

Shortly afterwards I received a letter from the Secretary, asking me to give 
him the scheme which I believed would prevent the misappropriation of the 
public money. I did so, and nothing further was done. 

If the President or Secretary had instituted an inquiry into the facts, as I 
believed would have been done, Swartwout would have been removed or admon- 
ished, and his defalcation, which amounted to over a million, would have been 
arrested. 

In 1830, I received a letter from my friend, the Hon. Edward Livingston, 
dated Montgomery Place, 22d September, in which he said : 

"I submit to you, that it might promote the public interests if you would pre- 
pare a Memorial on the German Trade^ and submit the same to the President. No 
one could do it so Avell, and I feel confident, on examining the subject, you will tliink 
it sufRciently important to occupy your attention. The present seems a propitious 
time for pushing our interests in that quarter. 

" I am, my dear sir, with high regard, your friend and humble servant." 



I entered upon this great work with alacrity, because I believed, after exa- 
mining the subject, I could promote the public interest, and probably be useful 
to the President. I found, the more I examined and thought upon it, that it 
involved grave considerations connected with our diplomatic policy, as well as 
our commercial interests. It was a work of great labor, particularly in tracing 
out the statistics of the German nations. I finished the Memoir in a little over 
a month, and sent it to the President, with the following letter: 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 175 

"New York, November 9, 1830. 
" To AxDREW Jackson, President. 

" My Dear Sir : I have the pleasure to enclose to you herewith a Memoir on 
the subject of our diplomatic intercourse and commerce with certain parts of Europe ; 
embracing also some reflections upon the present condition of the same portion of 
the world. This work was begun and finished during those engagements in the 
Courts of the United States which so much occupied my time during the last month, 
and is therefore less perfect than I trust it would have been under other circum- 
stances. Permit me to ask you to consider it as intended for your indulgent eye 
alone. 

" All extended views as to what will be the course of events in Europe, might 
be referred rather to a spirit of prophecy, than to result from a just course of deduc- 
tion from the history of any previous period of the world ; there is none analogous 
to it. I therefore do not pretend to speak with confidence in any respect, except 
that it is a dictate of wisdom on our part to be prepared for the worst — a general 
war. Heretofore, in such a state of things, we proclaimed a strict neutrality, and 
endeavored honestly to maintain it ; but being unable to place the country in a 
situation to enforce our neutral rights, we were compelled to submit to tlie aggres- 
sions of all the belligerents — ^from England and France even to those of Denmark 
and Naples — and ultimately, cur resources being considerably diminished, we were 
by these very aggressions drawn into war. Let such recent experience teach us, as 
soon as it is ascertained that a general war must ensue, to declare to the belligerents 
what our course will be, and to prove to them, by tlie energy of our preparatious, 
that we mean to protect our rights as neutrals — if necessary, by force. 

" It is not at all improbable that England may, for a length of time, keep out of 
the contest, and thus by her existing situation she may be called to cooperate with 
us in sustaining the same rights. It would be well, if this should be so, to endeavor, 
while she is so circumstanced, to have some understanding with her as to what the 
rights of neutrals are; although it is not probable she will suffer herself to be com- 
mitted on the snlgf^ct, inasmuch as she has heretofore treated neutral rights as 
depending wholly upon belligerent will and power. 

" If hostilities should be rendered more certain before the meeting of Congress, 
might you not hint at the probable necessity for such preparation, as affording an 
additional reason for your refusal to concur in expenditures foP internal improve- 
ments? 

" Pardon me for imposing upon you the necessity for reading this long letter and 
accompanying Memoir, and believe me to remain, with the truest attachment, 

" Your friend and servant, James A. Hamilton." 

THE MEMOIR. 

" A rigid system of economy, called for by its necessities, induced the Government 
of the United States at its outset, and also at the termination of the late war. to 
circumscribe, as much as possible, its expenditures, and particularly those required 
by foreign intercourse. 

" A different state of things, however, now exists. Almost entirely relieved from 
the incumbrance of debt, our revenues are so abundant that the Government wants 
all excuse for hesitating, was the policy ever questionable, to take every chance of 



176 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

advantage to our country by extending our representntion to foreign Courts to the 
extreraest point of prudence. Indeed, recent events in Europe no longer allow us 
to make this a question of expense or i)robable advantage. We have no right to 
bold back in the great struggle for the political regeneration of the world. Having 
given tlie first example of a government founded on clear and correct views of the 
rights of man, the first impulse to the power of the people in obedience to tliat sub- 
lime maxim announced by Hamilton, 'The fabric of American empire ought to rest 
on the solid basis of the consent of the people. The stream of national poicer ought 
to flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority.' We cannot, 
imder an enlightened and just sense of our duty or our safety, hesitate in doing all 
that may be in our power to extend, enforce, and perpetuate those principles which 
are not inconsistent with the three great maxims of our government : First — Not to 
interfere with the internal alFairs of other nations. Second — To avoid entangling 
alliances with all. And last — To preserve a strict neutrality. 

"By extending our representation to foreign states, we take the best means, 1st, 
of securing to ourselves new and useful commercial enterprises, and 2d, the exten- 
sion to an unlimited extent of those political truths which are the foundation of our 
system, and the only true basis of all governments. 

" In discussing this subject, I intend to point out, first, the vast population and 
extent of country ; their character and resources, to which we are at present un- 
known, and the reasons which render it probable our increased commercial inter- 
course would be the consequence of the policy suggested ; and next, the grounds for 
the opinion that an extended diplomatic and commercial intercourse would necessa- 
rily draw after it a more sure and general knowledge of the principles of our govern- 
ment, and particularly, that it is our duty to ourselves to extend those principles by 
all fair means, so long as any of the Powers which formed the Holy Alliance enter- 
tain the designs expressed by the two following engngements of the Congress of Vi- 
enna of 1822 : 

" ' Article 1. — The high contracting parties, well convinced that the system of 
representative government is as incompatible with the monarchical principles as 
the maxim of "the sovereignty of the people " is opposed to the principle of Divine 
right, engage in the most solemn manner to employ all their means and unite all their 
eftbrts to put an end to this system of government wherever it is known to exist in 
the states of Europe, and to prevent it from being introduced into those states where 
it is not known. 

" ' Article 2. — It cannot be disputed that the freedom of the press is the most 
efficacious means employed by the pretended defenders of the rights of nations to 
injure those of princes ; the high contracting parties reciprocally promise to adopt 
every possible measure for its suppression, not only in their own states, but in all 
others in Europe.' 

"The recent events in Europe give increased interest to this branch of the dis- 
cussion, as will appear hereafter. 

" Our diplomatic department, as to Europe, is now nearly on the same scale on 
which it was first established; if one or two missions have been added, others have 
been withdrawn ; yet the population, wealth, extent of empire, power and political 
importance of the nation have nearly quadrupled in that period. Although we may 
b3 insensible of the change, and of the additional duties it involves, we may be 
assured that other nations are not. Among these some are rivals (I am now speak- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 177 

ing only of commercial importance), others have no interest but such as may be pro- 
moted by a corabinatioa with ours. The first of these must be watched, the last 
conciiiated and united by a consolidation of mutual commercial intercourse. The 
establishment of a vigilant diplomatic agency is necessary in both instances: with 
our rivals, to discover and prevent intrigues to our prejudice; with the others, to 
form treaties of commerce, to watch over their operations, to suggest to our own 
Government, and negotiate with those to whom the agents are sent, all such 
changes as the mutual interest of the parties may require. I say mutual interests, 
because that is the only sure and permanent basis on which such treaties ought to be 
placed. No other can endure for any length of time, and in its breach evils are 
produced infinitely overbalancing any profit that may have arisen from any stipula- 
tion intended to secure to either party exclusive advantages. 

" We may draw lessons of practical advantage from the course of other nations, 
without the necessity of following their example to a pernicious extent. 

" Great Britain, our most formidable and perhaps only rival in commerce, not- 
withstanding the propensity its Government has always had for war, is now forced 
by the pressure of her debt, and the discontents of an important member of her terri- 
tory, to pursue a pacific policy, and to exert all her energies to the extension of her 
commercial and shipping interests. Her agents are everywhere. No sooner does a 
commotion arise in any part of the world that can pi-oduce any political or other 
change, than she is apprised of its beginning, and her diplomacy watches its progress, 
ready to seize any opportunity it may offer for extending her exchanges and employ- 
ing her shipping. The change of circumstances in any nation of the world which 
aftbrds a new market for her manufiictures, or a cheap supply of material for their 
fabrication, is immediately communicated by intelligent ministers, and measures are 
as immediately taken to secure the advantage, while her constant endeavor in all 
cases is to exclude us, who, with reason, she considers as her concurrent and most to 
be feared rival. In reply, it is urged that the Government can only be required to 
protect our commerce, and to find new channels for it, and that tlie rest may be 
safely entrusted to the vigilance and energy of individual enterprise. The answer to 
this excuse for a feeble and parsimonious spiiit is, that as long as our intelligent, lib- 
eral, and industrious rival exercises her influence in foreign countries to repress the 
energies of our people, and to exclude them from a participation in advantages which 
their enterprise would seek, commerce is not left to seek the various and abundant 
sources into which our citizens would direct it, but that a wise and paternal Govern- 
ment, particularly one which draws all its revenues from impost, is bound liberally 
to expend its means in encouraging and supporting its citizens in so unequal a con- 
test. Tlie situation of the whole world affords ample scope for the exercise of a dis- 
position on our part to foster and extend our commerce by the means which I am urg- 
ing, and to our rival to check and embarrass it. Spain, with a weak monarch, inat- 
tentive to the interests of his subjects, but graspingly ready to promote his own, 
aff'ords an opportunity for securing monopolies in trade that the sagacity of the British 
will not neglect ; while we, intent only upon our claims for indemnities tor the past, 
exhaust the eff^orts of our own, and excite the hostility of the diplomatists of this power 
in endeavors to correct the past instead of taking care of the future. The course of 
our Government towards Spain, as well in regard to the Floridas as South America, 
has been such as necessarily to excite a spirit of distrust and liostility towards the 
United States, which require a soothing and conciliatory policy. Its people aro 
12 



178 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

without capital or enterprise, and should they by a revolutionary struggle mitigate 
their present situation we ought to be ready to take advantage of the sympathies 
which that change would create. The commerce of Cuba is vastly important to us. 
We already enjoy more than one half of the carrying trade of that Island. Our 
intercourse has the advantage too of being almost coastwise. Our rival has looked 
at this state of things witli keen regret. Spain must feel or ought to be convinced 
that we have no other wish than that this province and that of Porto Rico should 
remain dependent, and that to our active interference it was, and must hereafter be, 
owing, that she still retains them. I have barely hinted at a subject deserving great 
consideration, and which requires an indulgent, intelligent, and industrious course of 
policy. 

" A great commercial change is about to take place between Portugal and Eng- 
land. The vassalage of the former to the latter is interrupted, perhaps destroyed. 
The Methuen Treaty concluded in 1Y03 between these Powers, by which the wines 
of the former were stipulated to be admitted at one third less duty than those of 
France, and the woolens of England were never to be prohibited, has by the con- 
struction of the Treaty of 1810, which expired in 1825, been determined to be sub- 
ject to revision by either party. The manufactory of the Oporto Company greatly 
diminished the advantages which Great Britain expected to derive from the Methuen 
Treaty, and in the new arrangements the unsettled state of the succession will afford 
advantages which, perhaps, may in some sort be counteracted by our early recogni- 
tion of Don Miguel's title to the Crown, should it be established. Our flour and fish 
are certainly, and our lumber is almost, excluded from Portugal and her dependencies. 
Much might be done for our mutual advantage by an industrious, intelligent, and 
skillful representative of tlie fourth class at this court. Circumstances of a pecu- 
liar character connected with the course of the Diplomatic Corps on the change of 
government in that country, would seem to render the exertions of our present rep- 
reseutative, of whatever order his qualifications may be, most probably inefl:ectual. 
" The commercial changes in France during a few years past, as those very re- 
cently of a political character, present to the mind of an intelligent observer the 
most interesting considerations. The last topic, which is strictly political, will be 
Tcserved for its proper place — the second division of our subject. The former, not 
implying any change or extension of our policy, will be merely glanced at. 

" The Government of France before the Revolution of 1Y90, like all other despotic 
•governments, was necessarily averse to an extended commerce ; but within the last 
.fifteen years we have seen even this country yielding some of its antiquated prejudi- 
• ces, and allowing this employment to be deemed, if not an honorable distinction, at 
least not a degrading one, in her intercourse with us approaching equality and libe- 
ral views, which will now be more extended, inasmuch as the revolution which has 
:30 recently occurred will necessarily throw into the councils of France more pro- 
found wisdom and a closer attention to the interests of the community generally. 'We 
may therefore hope her monopolies may be destroyed ; but to realize the hope, 
much, it must be conceded, may be accomplished by the earnest and intelligent ef- 
forts of an excellent representative at that court. That Great Britain, should she 
then not be at war, will, with her accustomed acuteness and vigilance, endeavor to 
turn these changes to her advantage, is made apparent, when we recollect that a 
commercial treaty between the two countries was recently spoken of in Parliament 
■as a probable, or, at least, a desirable event. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 179 

" With Denmark and Sweden we have treaties. Between ns, Russia, and the 
Netherlands, there are reciprocal enactments which will probably secure to us a re- 
ciprocity of coinmercial advantages, and with them, as well as with the other power?, 
our intercourse is kept up by able diplomatic agents; but there are in the European 
communities many important Powers, with some of whom we have no treaties, 
and with none of thein have we any diplomatic intercourse. I speak of Tur- 
key, Greece, the States of Germany, and Italy. With Turkey, Prussia, Austria, 
and the Hesse Towns, we have treaties, but have sent tbem no Ministers. With the 
other states w^e have no treaties. 

" A slight examination of our condition with that of Turkey and of the geographi- 
cal situation of the other states I have mentioned, their popidations, their products, 
and their consumptions, will enable us to determine whether, in a commercial point 
of view, their importance has not been overlooked, and whether a diplomatic inter- 
course with them is not as necessary as with most of the other Powers with whom 
it has been usefully maintained. Tiie Turkish Empire in Europe has a population 
of about five millions, in Asia of about ten millions, making together fifteen mil- 
lions of people ; the State of Greece about two millions. 

" The Austrian Empire covers more than 190,000 square miles, and has a popula- 
tion of thirty millions; the Prussian Monarchy lias 80,000 square miles, and a pop- 
ulation of twelve millions, 

"The German Confederation, consisting of thirty-six different Kingdoms, Princi- 
palities and States, contains thirteen millions, and the Swiss Confederacy about two 
millions. Thus the last four states comprise fifty-nine millions of the most indus- 
trious people on earth, inhabiting the richest part of Europe, situated in its very 
centre, extending from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, abounding with articles 
both of product and manufacture of which we are consumers, and affording a mar- 
ket for many of our most saleable productions and of others of which we may be- 
come the carriers, and yet to whom we send no diplomatic agent whatever. 

"The Emperor of Austria, it is true, is no longer the head of the Germanic Em- 
pire, but his influence is perhaps greater than when he enjoyed that title. The neg- 
lect (if the United States to send a Minister to his court, which once claimed prece- 
dence over all other potentates and had those claims allowed, while many of the 
third-rate Powers receive that mark of attention, possibly may have had an unfavor- 
able effect ; but this impression, it is supposed, may be removed. 

• " Each of the thirty-six Powers composing the Germanic Confederation from 
the Kingdom of Bavaria, which contains nearly four millions of inhabitants, to the 
Lordship of Knifhausen, which has not quite three thousand, has the independent 
power of making treaties of commerce. The consequence is so much confusion and 
vexation in the importation and transit of foreign commodities, that some of the 
Powers have had recourse to sub-confederations for the regulation of their future 
intercourse, and establishing a uniformity of duties with other Powers. 

" In 1828, Bavaria and Wurtemberg made a commercial treaty of this nature. 
Saxony, Hesse-Cassel, Hanover, and Brunswick, another. Bavaria, Ilesse-Darm- 
stadt, and Baden entered into a treaty principally for regulating the duties on commo- 
dities received by the Pihine, and latterly, Hanover, the Electorate of Hesse, Alden- 
burgh, and Brunswick, by a treaty the 18th May last, have established a i)erfect 
freedom of trade between their several states, and this treaty, it is supposed, will 



ISO REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

be acceded to by the other members of the Germanic Coutederation. Tliese four 
sub-confederacies comprehend eleven out of the thirteen millions people contained 
in the whole Confederation, so that commercial arrangements with these would 
supercede the necessity of separate negotiations with all the thirty-six independent 
powers; and we ought thus to prepare the way for the introduction, upon the best 
terms, of our products, and the foreign commodities which might be carried in our 
ships into the interior of Germany, from whence they are at present excluded by 
the high duties and vexatious fiscal operations of the numerous states through which 
they have to pass. 

" It is to be remarked that the articles of import from Germany and Austria are 
such as do not at all interfere with our domestic manufactures. They are principal- 
ly wines, fine wood, laces, spelter (an article much used in our China trade), em- 
broidered muslins, linens, toys, musical instruments, silk, &c,, and if I may be 
allowed the expression, a hardy, industrious, sober, and virtuous people, who make 
good citizens ; while we could supply them with cotton, rice, tobacco, salt-fish, 
deer-skins, f^eal-skins, the product of our own soil or industry, and tea, sugar, raw 
and manufactured coffee, dye-stuffs, &c., the proceeds of our commerce with others. 

"It is to be remarked that none of these Powers, — and the same remark may be 
extended to Turkey and Greece, — can entertain the least jealousy of our growth ; nor 
have either of them any shipping or commercial interests to interfere with ours, 
(xreece will, hereafter, be extensively maritime, and therefore it becomes important 
that we should endeavor at once to impress upon her councils that simple, equitable, 
and enlightened system of just reciprocity under which our commerce has flourished 
in so unexampled a manner. In short, no two parts of the world seena so well fitted 
by natural wants, and the absence of all causes of competition, for a close commercial 
connection with each other. 

"There are three routes by which the interior of Germnny is supplied with 
foreign commodities: 1st, by the Rhine, through the Netherlands; 2d, by Ham- 
burg and Bremen to Hanover, Brunswick, Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Darmstadt, Baden, 
Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and Switzerland ; 3d, from Havre by Ments to Frankfort or 
by Strasburg to the south of Germany and Switzerland. The latter has almost 
ceased to be a route of import, but is the most used to export. 

" All these route*, according to a distinguished American writer, who has travelled 
through the country, have the disadvantage of great vexation and delay; * but it is 
said that since the period at which he wrote, and perhaps owing to the Confederacies 
which liave been mentioned, the transit duties have become more moderate. 
So sensible have the French now become of the increasing importance of the German 
trade, that a scheme is actually on foot to make a railway through Paris to Frankfort. 

* In the most populous parts of Germany the merchant is met at every few leagues with 
a fresh line of Custom Houses. Let him travel by land or water, every second or third day 
brings him into a new sovereignty, wliich must be acknowledged by the payment of new toils 
and duties. No lawful and honest trade can flourisli under such oppression, and the neces- 
sary consequence of it is an extensive contraband traffic, the decline of industry, and 
the general imiioverishment of the country. The minor states are now deliberating together, 
by deputations, on this subject, and arc endeavoring to digest a plan for the abolition of all 
duties upon internal commerce. The liberal governments in the south of Germany are under- 
stood to be at the head of this attempt, and their object is, if possible, to clear the way of 
these pernicious barriers by laud and wat«M- from Switzerland to the Ocean. The vast benefit 
that would result from this to every individual and every nation affected by it, is obvious at 
a glance. Europe. By a Citizen of the United States. Page 214. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 181 

" By the table A ia the appendix, it appears that the total of the population of 
that part of Europe with which the United States have no diplomatic iutercourse, is 
about ninety-four millions, and that the population of the countries in Europe Avith 
which the United States have diplomatic intercourse, is one hundred and forty-three 
millions five hundred thousand. Here are eiglit Powers whose aggregate population 
is in round numbers one hundred and forty-three and a half millions, or on an 
average a Minister to every eighteen millions of inhabitants, while to more than 
fifty other Powers, consisting of a population of about ninety-four millions, we send 
none. 

"It is worth considering what would be the effect of introducing any one of our 
commodities for the consumption of any considerable portion of these ninety-four 
millions of inhabitants, or of securing to our shipping the carrying trade for them. 
A single pound of any commodity carried for each would give employment to forty - 
seven thousand tons of sliipping ; a jiound of any of our valuable exports, tobacco, 
rice, cotton, &c. consumed by each would amount to many millions ; aud the duties 
upon the return cargoes, or upon such articles of reinvestment in some shape or 
other, would more than repay to tlie Government the whole present as well as the 
extended foreign intercourse as proposed. 

" To Great Britain and Ireland we send cotton to the value of fifteen millions six 
hundred thousand dollars; tobacco to the value of one million eight hundred thou- 
sand ; flaxseed to the value of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ; indigo to the 
amount of about half a million of dollars ; making a total of these articles alone of 
very nearly one dollar for each person. 

" To the IsTetherlands we send, in cotton and tobacco alone, to the value of a 
million of dollars, and in other articles of domestic produce eight hundred thousand 
dollars more ; making an average of about thirty cents for each inhabitant. 

"To France our exports of domestic produce are near eight millions, or about 
twenty -five cents for each inhabitant. 

" At present our exports of domestic produce to the eighty-seven millions of 
inhabitants belonging to that part of Europe with which we have no diplomatic 
intercourse, exclusive of Turkey and Greece, may be estimated as follows: 

By Trieste and Venice $119,000 

To Italy generally -. 279,000 

To Denmark we send $150,000 (one third of this is supposed 

to be sent to the interior) 50,000 

To the Hanse Towns 1,800,000 

Of tiie $1,800,000 sent to the Netherlands, it may be sup- 
posed (and this is a large allowance), that one third goes 
to the interior 000,000 

Making an aggregate of $2,248,000 

which is equal to about two cents and one half of a cent for each inhabitant. . 
Admitting, therefore, that by a diplomatic intercourse we should lind the means of 
increasing our exports so as to make them equal to those of France, the lowest in 
the scale, we should have an additional market for about twenty millions of dollars 
more than we now export ; but the trade with France employs about seventy-five 
tons of American shipping, and consequently in the same proportion the countries in 



182 KEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

question would employ two hundred thousand tons. This may be said to he a calcu- 
lation founded upon correct data, but that the deductions are false, if it is intended 
by it to show that by establishing a diplomatic intercourse with these countries 
such an increase of our commerce would necessarily follow. In reply, I admit that 
it is not pretended that the residence of Ministers in these countries would create 
tliis commerce; but it will not be denied that it would promote it; else why are 
Ministers sent to other countries in Europe? else why was the Government desirous, 
even at the hazard of a much greater expense than has been incurred, to form a 
commercial treaty with the Porte? It cannot be said that by the treaty last referred 
to, we can create an extended commerce with the dominions of the Porte in Europe 
and Asia, or with that part of Russia which is situated on the Black Sea, and yet it 
cannot be denied that tins arrangement, if it is followed up by proper measures, will 
tend to promote a vast increase of our commerce, and give increased employment 
to our shipping, and that without a mission the object of this treaty will be frustrated. 

" I am led, by these facts and considerations, to believe, and strongly to urge, 
the propriety of extending our diplomatic intercourse by sending a Minister to 
Turkey, another to Prussia, another to Austria, a Charge d' Affaires to Naples, and, 
at present, an agent for the purpose of inquiry to Greece ; but as soon as that Gov- 
ernment is arranged, a Charge d'Affaires. 

" The Minister to Austria ought to be accredited to and charged with power to 
form treaties with the several Powers composing the German Confederacy. 

" I have hitherto merely endeavored to show the commercial advantages that 
would result from this arrangement, antl, as connected with this view, it may be 
proper to state the probable expense of this increased intercourse. It may be said 
that the average period of the residence of our Ministers and Charges abroad is about 
three years; it might be at least four, and that the annual ex])ense of a Minister, divid- 
ing his outfit into three parts, and adding one third of it to his salary as an annual 
expense, together with contingencies estimated at one thousand dollars per annum, 
and one third of two thousand five hundred dollars, the allowance for his return, 
would make the whole annual expense of eacb Minister not les? than $13,834, and 
to a Charge, one half, $6,917, making the increased expense of three Ministers and 
a Charge d'Affaires amount in round numbers to $48,000 per annum. It may be 
said Avithout the fear of contradiction, that it is impossible this expense should not 
be more than compensated to the Government by the extension of our commerce in 
consequence of this extension of our diplomatic intercourse; but there are other 
views, which, as to the saving of expense, put the matter in even a clearer point of 
view. As our commerce is extended by its own energy, or the care of the Govern- 
ment, it must be proportionately exposed to aggressions which produce protracted 
and irritating negotiation, reprisal, or war. These wrongs will most probably be 
perpetrated by those people near whose fiovernments we have no representative; 
and it may here be remarked, that the people of Greece, habitually mariners, and 
more recently freebooters (the consequence of a protracted and barbarous warfare), 
will require us to prove to them, by an imposing display of our naval fcrce, that 
while we desire to cultivate peace with all nations, we suffer unrequited aggressions 
from none ; or, should it be otherwise, they will be readily repressed and atoned for 
by the prompt interference of our Minister, and thus, in either case, the Govern- 
ment would be saved much expense, and we should not be exposed to those irri- 
tations which so often occasion a deep-rooted hostility ; and the national honor 
would bo unsullied. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 183 

" Preliminarily to the discussion of the second and most important part of our 
subject, it is proper, in order to afrive at correct results, to advert to the political 
situation of Europe, The states of Russia, Prussia, Austria — including Italy — the 
German Confederation, Sweden and Denmark, are, with some unimportant excep- 
tions, unmixed despotisms, whose ill-fated population are destined, for a period at 
least, to endure all the evils of rigorous and unmitigated slavery. In these coun- 
tries, unfortunately, the proudest aristocracy, between whom there is a common, 
interest resulting from common dangers, have no choice in the present condition of 
popular feeling but to I'ivet their powders more securely, or to change places with 
their slaves. In the Netherlands and in England there is a basis of theoretical 
representation and a partial acknowledgment of the sacred principles of freedom ; 
but all these systems are sustained by such evident and unlimited abuses of power 
practised by the privileged classes, upon whom the existence of royalty depends — 
they are so burthensorae to the peopla^owing to excessive taxation and extrava- 
gance, that, although they claim, in comparison with the others, to be free, yet as to 
the United States and France, under the new order of things, they may be classed 
with the others. It is equally out of the power of all of them to yield more than 
they have already done to the people without endangering their respective fabrics 
of government. "We are therefore permitted in this view of the subject to assert, 
that all the principalities and powers of Europe must be colaborators with the 
former openly, and the two latter, or perhaps Great Britain, covertly, in the difficult 
work of repressing political opinion, 

" After the great Powers at the Congress of Vienna had partitioned Europe, dis- 
severing Belgium from France, and joining her in an unnatural alliance with 
Holland ; taking FreudLind from Sweden to add to the overgrown strength of 
Eussia, and thus depriving the virtuous and peaceful Danes of Norway in order to 
compensate Sweden ; the Emperors of Russia and Austria with the King of Prussia 
formed the 'Holy Alliance,' to which the other Powers were invited, and many of 
them did accede. Thus formed, this misnamed association engaged at Verona ' in 
the most solemn manner to employ all their means and to unite all their efforts to 
put an end to this (representative) system of government wherever it is known to 
exist in the states of Europe, and to prevent it from being introduced into those 
states where it is not known.' At Tropau and Laybach they asserted in unquali- 
fied terms the right, on general principles, of putting down revolution whenever it 
should display itself in other independent nations. The attempted revolution of 
Naples was approved by the king, who could not be brought even at Laybach to 
express a different opinion. And yet the Allies then set forth the following pre- 
tensions : ' If,' say they, ' in a case of revolution the king disapproves the proceed- 
ings, we claim the right of interfering in his defence. If the king approves, then, 
however completely he may be out of danger, he must be considered as acting under 
compulsion, and the right of interference remains.' These declarations were not 
empty menaces. Austria, backed by the Cossacks of Eussia, marched her armies 
into Italj^ suppressed this ill-concerted and feeble effort of the people of Naples, 
and made them the most abject slaves in all Europe. If I well recollect, there is but 
one newspaper published in all the Austrian-Italian states, and that is under the 
strictest censorship. None are allowed to be introduced, and the people dare not 
express their opinions of piiblic measures in any form. 

" The duty of fulfilling these engagements when a revolution was attempted in 



184 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Spain, devolved on France ; and her formidable army, commanded by the Dauphin, 
restored the feeble Ferdinand to unlimited authority, and the inquisition to its power 
of executing its secret and unerring vengeance ui)on all who dared to serve their 
country by reforming the abuses of the Government. 

" In addition to this most conclusive evidence on tlie part of the ' Holy Alliance ' 
of what (hey, the Holy Alliance, determined and dared to do, it is wortliy of re- 
mark, as strongly illustrative of their power, that Avheu the invasion of Naples by 
the Austrians Avas under consideration in the British Parliament, the iIini^t^y, in 
defending their passive policy, pretended ' to maintain that the proceedings of Aus- 
tria might hejustijied on the ground of the danger to her dominions in Italy from the 
estallishment of a liberal government at Naples.'^ As well might England be justi- 
fied in attempting to put down the liberal government of the United States as 
dangerous to her dominions on this continent. The iniquitous assumption is too 
absurd to require to be refuted. It has resilted from a consciousness of moral weak- 
ness and the possession of military force. And tliey have possessed the latter to a 
degree in which the present state of aflairs at home has even intimidated England. 

'' The successful eflort of the people of France to resist oi^pressiju and to estab- 
lish a government for themselves must, as well in obedience to those solemn en- 
gagements as to the dictates of self-defence on the part of those who rule by ' Divine 
Bight ' to repress those kindling principles upon which representative governments 
depend, whose light, unless extinguished by t\)ree, must idtimately extend tlirough- 
out Europe, — this elFort, I say, must by its power shake to the centre every throne, 
however deeply rooted or strongly cemented by time and the blood of its subjects, 

" The power of repression, to be successful, must be extended beyond the effort 
to preserve order. In Spain, in Italy, in the Netherlands, in Austria and Prussia, 
it must be pushed even to the restoration of the government as it was in France. 
A Republic, whether its chief be a President or a Citizen-King^ cannot exist in 
France without kindling the same spirit of freedom in the breasts of those who are 
near them and inducing them to make continual eftbrts at revolt. The time is be- 
lieved to have arrived when the pure and holy spirit of liberty has gone forth ; his 
trump lias sounded, calling the enslaved of Europe to be free; and they must obey 
his voice, as implicitly as will the spirits of the dead obey the call of tlie Arch- 
angel on the last day to judgment. From these considerations, it is believed that 
the peace of Europe cannot be preserved. It is, however, said by those who enter- 
tain a different opinion, that the Sovereigns have a middle course ; that they may 
satisfy their people and maintain their power by making partial surrenders. I an- 
swer, that temporizing, under existing circumstances, will not do. To yield, partic- 
ularly to the clamors of an enlightened people, as are those of the West of Europe, 
is to give up all. The contest in Franco was not commenced or carried on to avoid 
an impending or to be realized from a pressing evil ; it was a contest for great prin- 
ciples, for the right of self-government ; and so will it be elsewhere. It is a contest 
for rights which the Allies correctly declare to be as incompatible with the mo- 
narchical principle as the maxim of the sovereignty of the people is opposed to the 
principles of Divine Right. Reason renders it quite clear that thus to purchase 
forbearance from the people would be deemed an admission of their power which 
would give increased energy to the tone as well as latitude to their demands. Ex- 
perience ])roves it to be equally certain that in their first elforts to be free (as was 
the case with the people of France in the first revolution), a people unaccustomed to 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 185 

self-govei'uraent will not stop at the boundary between just, salutary restraint and 
dissHstine; licentiousness. But if it be admitted that on the whole it would be more 
wise to yield than to resist, let ns see whether that is the course the powers of 
Europe will probably adopt. Princes do not derive wisdom from their own or the 
experience of others. The admonitions of the last thirty years have been unavail- 
ing to tliem. The present period of a peace of unexampled duration has not been 
improved to soften the rigors of their systems. It is true the King of Prussia has, 
from time to time, held out to his subjects the mo?t flattering expectations ; he 
has even gone so far as to appoint a commission to report the plan of a constitu- 
tional government ; but at the same time, as we have seen, he entered into the most 
solemn engagements with his allies to put down all the representative systems in 
Europe, and to prevent all others from being formed. Tlie Emperor of Austria 
urged the German union to form representative governments, but denied to his own 
people the slightest participation in such advantages, and has bound his Italian 
dominions in the most abject slavery. The King of the Netherlands, not less incon- 
sistent than the two former monarchs, although he granted to his people, as a boon, 
a representative government, at the same time secured the irresponsibility of him- 
self or his ministers, and as the best means of making that exemption eftectual, has 
endeavored to extend it even to public opinion hy destroying the freedom of the 
press. His people are weighed down by exactions. With a population of about 
six millions, his public debt amounts to not less than seven hundred millions of 
dollars. 

" The King of France, as an act of grace, granted to his subjects the charter of 
1815, and he and his successors have from that time made unceasing efforts to 
destroy it. 

" There are no sympathies between princes and their subjects; the former know 
nothing of the power or the sutFerings of the latter. Accustomed to implicit obe- 
dience, relying upon the force they have always at command and upon the advice 
of deeply interested counsellors, they generally seek the shortest and to them the 
most obvious and accustomed route to obtain their end. The points of their swords 
■will be relied upon to give the law to their subjects without discussion, compromise, 
or qualification. In this contest France, however much she may wish to avoid it, 
must be a party; she well understands that it is better to fight for the right of self- 
government in Belgium, the arena of Europe, having that w^arlike people and the 
invincible Spaniard and even the degraded Italian for her allies, tlian single-handed 
at the gates of Paris. 

" From these general considerations I am convinced there must be a war in 
Europe involving the most interesting issue to all mankind. I also believe it will 
not be immediate, unless it is accidental, because the Allies will most probably first 
attempt to sow dissension in France ; and in the event of civil war, to take part with 
the adherents of the Duke of Bordeaux or the Duke of Eechstadt, as events may 
require. The conduct of the banished monarch while on his return to France and 
of his friends in withdrawing from the Chamber of Deputies and the House of Peers, 
was dictated by a firm reliance upon the support of that alliance of which he was a 
distinguished member. The prompt acknowledgment by England and even by the 
other Powers ought not to induce ns to hesitate in this belief; by any otlier cause 
they will unite all France against a common enemy, and thus diminish the chance 
of these dissensions to which I have referred. They would likewise be called, by 



ISO REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

an immediate war, from tliat watclifulness wliich tbeir situation at home at this 
moment particularly demands. To delay the contest is therefore their intent, as it 
will he their policy. Our system always has been, hut is now more particularly, 
an object of deep and settled hatred to the Powers of Europe. It is now adverted 
to as the source of this accumulation of evils. Our course on this occasion, at the 
very outset of the first communication of the Executive to Congress, will be looked 
to with the deepest interest by both parties, while it will he watched with a 
marked jealousy by one. Under these circumstances it would be wise— nay, it is 
indispensably necessary— that we should in the event of a war, in order to give effect 
to our determination to preserve a rigid neutrality, extend our diplomatic relations 
to all the parties to the contests, and to enlarge our navy, not only that the bellige- 
rents may be directly informed of our pacific policy, but that they may be aware 
of our determination and our ability to enforce our rights as neutrals ; and by thus 
being enabled upon the first a.L'gression to make the most prompt, decided, but tem- 
perate remonstrances, we will probably prevent a repetition of offences, and much 
greater evils, or at all events it will deprive the other combatants of tlie excuse for 
similar excesses resulting from an appearance of tame or pusillanimous acquiescence 
on our part. 

" If there should not be an immediate conflict, missions at this moment to the 
courts actuated by the feelings to which I have referred will tend to allay their jeal- 
ousies and soothe their irritations, and at the same time have the eftect of forcing our 
country and its institutions into the notice thus of all classes ; of inducing the intel- 
ligent and well-informed to examine the principles upon which our government is 
founded, and thus to make comparisons between them and the burthensome mass 
of absurdities to which they are subjected. Thus will the people of these countries 
become enamored of liberty and capable of maintaining it. Represented by our be- 
nign and beautiful system, she appears to mankind in the most fascinating form ; 
whereas, by the outrages of the French Eebellion of 1790 against all that was wise 
and gooJ, she is represented as a disgusting harlot intoxicated with the blood and 
corru[itions of her followers. The unostentatious and citizen-like appearance of a 
foreign Minister would then be an object of general and intense curiosity. The ap- 
pearance, manner, conversation, and character of Dr. Franklin, and of Mr. Jefferson 
after him, in France, is understood to have produced much of that enthusiasm and 
love of liberty which, before the revolution, pervaded a certain class of men in 
that country. 

"It seems now to be admitted, as civilization advances just views of government 
follow after it ; in other words, as men learn to reason rightly they discover that 
government is for, and ought to be established by, the many and not the few. Noth- 
ing has diffused the lights of civilization equally with commercial intercourse. The 
history of the world attests the truth of this remark, and no country affords a more 
illustrious example of its advantages in this respect than does that of England when 
she emerged from the bondage of the feudal system. Her haughty Barons, who suc- 
cessfully resisted the power of the Crown through the force of their vassals, yielded 
to its mighty influence, and at length sought its aid to limit the power of the Crown. 
If therefore by the extended dii)lomacy of our country we can extend our com- 
merce, wo shall be instrumental in some degree in loosening the chains of those who 
are still held in ignorance and bondage, and we will thus form alliances between 
free principles and a portion at least of the people of ev^ry one of the arbitrary 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 1S7 

governments of Europe, which will be useful without being at all embarrassing 
to us. 

" October, 1830. James A. Hamilton." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, September 10, 1830. 
"My Dear Sir : I have a curious request to make of you. I talked over with 
you, going to Ballston, the subject of internal improvements by Congress, and what 
might with advantage be said by me, and in a manner which was quite satisfactory 
to myself and it appeared to be so to you. I made no memorandum, and am confi- 
dent some things have escaped me to which I then attached importance. Write me 
your recollections, and if they do not hit upon the same ideas, they cannot, never- 
theless, fail to be useful. 

" Believe me to bo 

" Yours truly, &c." 

On the receipt of this letter I hastily prepared a statement of the con- 
versation referred to. It embraced two important subjects : one, Internal 
Improvements ; the other, Impressment. 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, September 80, 1830. 

"Dear Sir: Give yourself no uneasiness about the enclosed. I had picked up 
my lost ideas before I received your recollections, and put them into a form witli 
which I am highly delighted. You will be surprised to find how much you had re- 
tained of our conversation. 

, "In haste, your friend, &c." 

President ANDRE\y Jackson to Col. James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, October 5, 1830. 

" My Dear Sir : Your letter, with the slippers presented, was received two days 
ago, but we have been so busied with the despatches opening the West India trade, 
some little difliculty having arisen in the mind of the Secretary of the Treasury on 
the subject of the instructions to be issued to the Collectors, that no leisure was 
presented to me until now. We arranged this last evening, and I hope our return 
despatch will reach New York in time for the packet of the 8th. 

" I sincerely thank you for the solicitude you take with regard to my health, 
and have the pleasure to inform you that it has improved, altliough a little checked 
by a bad cold taken since my return to this city. It would aflford us great pleasure 
to see you here. I have much to say to you, and some letters to show you that 
might afford you some amusement, which would not be proper to submit in a letter. 
Major Donelson, Lewis, and my son all join in their respects to you, 

" And believe me, 

" Sincerely your friend, &c." 



188 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Louis McLane to James A. Hamilton. 

" LoNDOx, October 6, 1830. 

" My Dear Sir : I have just returned from a visit to Paris, but have not a mo- 
ment to write a long letter even to V. B., and therefore must put off until the next 
packet a letter of more detailed infonnation to you. I write now a single line in 
consequence of your letter of the 23d August, wliich I found here waiting my return. 
In tliat letter you observe, 'I wrote you a long confidential letter on the 27th June 
last, informing you of divers interesting matters, but particularly of certain proposed 
changes here in which you are particularly as well as generally interested. Your 
arrival will be looked for about the middle of next month.' Now I never received 
such a letter. I received in May last a letter from you dated the 10<A April, which 
Avas long and confidential, and corresponding in all other respects with the above de- 
scrijjtion, which I answered by the next packet ; but I have received no letter of June 
nor any other letter of any other date on any subject whatsoever from you between 
the ICtii April and that of the 23d August, w^hich I am now answering. Of course, 
I am ignorant of the object of your letter of the 27th June, and of course you will 
receive no answer to it. You speak of having no fears of the small Western States 
who will return Senators ; what then are we to think of the accounts in the Intelli- 
gencer, of dates later than your letter, taking from us not Kentucky only, but Illinois, 
Indiana, Louisiana, and JMissovri? Can it be possible that the Editors have been 
so profligate as to parade this fiilse intelligence to aflfect the elections in Maryland 
and Delaware ? It may be so, and I hope that this is the explanation ; but then, 
even these accounts, together with the exaggerated state of aft'airsin South Carolina, 
have an unfavorable influence here, in weakening confidence in the strength and 
permanence of the administration. Van Biiren, and you, and Cambreling, should 
have foreseen this, and if the accounts in the Intelligencer be false, have kept me 
well informed of the real state of things. You have all left this Legation too depend- 
ent upon newspapers, which that youthful agent, Mr. Brent, professes to put up twice 
a month. France is not yet settled, though if peace continue in Europe, I think she 
will go on and establish her government. But a European war is scarcely to be 
avoided. Everywhere the elements of discord and rupture are active and potent. 
This government will exert every nerve and make almost any sacrifice to preserve 
peace, and will not interfere if she can help it. I believe nothing short of an at- 
tempt to unite Belgium with France, or in some other way to extend the territorial 
limits of France, will draw Great Britain into the war. But of all these things, in 
detail more in my next. Meantime, let me into the secrets and doings at home, and 

"Believe me, 

" Very truly yours, itc. 
" You should make some inquiries about your letter of the 27th of June. 

" P. S. Randolph is at present in London, having quit St. Petersburgh in conse- 
quence of bad health. He says Juba had the black vomit at St. Petersburgh. He 
has sent him to the U. S. with all his trumpery, but means to travel himself in the 
south of Europe, first buying in London a leaden coflin in case of accident. In 
health, he is a good deal shattered, and looks badly." * 

j * Randolph was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia. 
( Shorlly after his arrival, lie was presented, and made himself very ridiculous. 

The presentation is in the Throne-Room of the Winter Palace. Their Majesties the Em- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 189 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, October 13, 1830. 

"My Dear Sik: lam so deeply laden down with business (more so tlian ever, if 
possible), that I have only time to say a word. The General Van Sholten is here, 
and will make his speech to-morrow. His papers are quite informal, but we will 
send him away, at least personally pleased. Although we have enough in all con- 
science to meet Congress with, I should not be surprised if before they meet we receive 
valuable additions. The negotiations in France and Spain — the sluggard Spain — 
keep me busy. You see in the extract from the Boston paper, republished in the 
Intelligencer of to-day, that it is admitted that the Act of 1823 lost us the trade. 
This is giving up the question, as it is well known that Mr. Adams drew up that Act ; 
that its provisions were covered over by the lapse of the w^ord elsewhere; so much so 
that the British Government even felt it necessary to ask for explanations as to its 
meaning, but he insisted upon it for years, and gave it up when it was too late. 
What do they mean ? Is it to get Mr. Clay out of the scrape, and throw all the blame 
upon Mr. Adams ?*********** 

" Mirabeau said of the Bourbons, ' tliat they always came too late to do good.' 
How applicable to the Adamses ! y" Yours truly, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson, 

"New York, October 16, 1830. 

"My Dear Sir: I had the pleasure to receive your letters of the 5th and 8th 
instant, informing me of your safe arrival and improved health. 

" Your success in adjusting that difficult matter, the West India Trade, is very 
properly appreciated liere by all ranks and parties, except the factious cavilers, who 
deceive themselves in their efforts to delude the people. We daily see in the Post 
the evidence, and receive information from those further East, which assure us that 
it will give greatly increased activity to our commerce. 

"Among the measures of congratulation to you, the increase of our impost rev- 

peror and Empress leave the Throne, those who are to be presented forming a semicircle 
in front of the Throne, on the left the ambassador of highest rank, and the others in suc- 
cession. I speak of the arrangements when I was presented in the winter of 1841-42. The 
Emperor, attended by a Chamberlain, begins at the lel't and goes along the whole line, the 
names of the different persons to be presented being announced to him in turn. After the 
Emperor, the Empress follows, in full court dress, a page holding up her train ; a Chamberlain 
accompanies her, announcing each person in turn as she approaches him. She holds out the 
back of her hand to be kissed ; the person presented takes her hand in his. The Courtiers 
are arranged on each side of the Throne according to their rank, male and female. They 
form a semicircle facing those who are to be presented. 

When Her Majesty approached John Randolph, American Minister Plenipotentiary, intend- 
ing to be most profoundly respectful he went down on one knee. He had on leather hunting 
gloves, rather tight, and while she was holding out her hand, he was tugging away at the glove 
to get it off, but in vain. He was a very thin, awkward man, and was said to look like a 
forked radish. This awkward circumstance continued so long that all the lookers-on burst out 
into a laugh. Her Majesty with great condescension put her hand down to him and he kissed 
it. This rendered him so ridiculous that he did not remain long at his post. When he was 
to be presented in London, McLane told me he insisted upon going in the presence of Majesty 
in so outrageous a manner that his entrance was resisted by the attendants. 

He was a man of great purity, a finished scholar of decided talents and much experience, 
but erratic in the 'extreme, and of an imperious temper. -^ 



190 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

enues is not to be overlooked. This will not only afford the means, more rapidly 
than was anticipated, of absorbing the public debt, but it tends to show that the pro- 
tective system has not been productive of the evils to our commerce which were so 
confidently anticipated by its opponents. 

" The recent events in Europe are full of interest here, as well as on the other 
side of the water. Ought we not to look to a general war as an event at least so 
probable, as to prepare the outlines of a system suited to such a state of things? 
But more of this when we meet, which pleasure, I regret to say, appears likely to 
be deferred until after the 5th or 6th of the next month, owing to the continued 
sessions of the U. S. Courts in this district, 

" With my best wishes I remain, dear sir, your friend, &c." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, October 17, 1830. 
" My Deak Sie : * * * * You see that Eaton has succeeded in negotiating 
a treaty with the Choctaws. This is an important matter, and breaks the force of the 
Indian question. The Choctaws and Chickasaws are the most formidable tribes, and 
the rest must follow, of course. The General is much pleased with this matter. We 
really go on swimmingly. Yours truly, &c." 

P. Van Sholten to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, October 80, 1830. 

" My Deae Sie : Your very friendly and welcome letter reachedrae yesterday, 
and gave me great pleasure, as a proof of the continuation of your friendship for me, 
to which I consider myself indebted, not only for the most agreeable hours I have 
passed with you and your family, but also for the flattering reception and facility of 
intercourse which I have met with here. Your kind intentions of writing to me for 
some time past bave, I assure you, been reciprocated by me. In tbe execution, how- 
ever, I certainly stand as the debtor, and trust to your indulgence for my acquittal, 
having been so occupied and so sick since my arrival, as to have deferred the pleasure 
of communicating with you until your personal appearance here, of which, according 
to the report, I have been in daily expectation. 

" I have just given in my note, in form of an ultimatum, for the private perusal 
of Mr. Van Buren, and wish particularly that you could have seen it while in the 
rough." 

PRESIDENT JACKSON'S MESSAGE, 1830. 
J. A. Hamilton to a Friend. 

" Washington, 5 o'clock, P. M., Nov. 21, 1830. 
" I arrived here this afternoon ; found Van Buren busily engaged with matters 
relating to the approaching meeting of Congress, in which I was immediately 
enlisted, and so continued until dinner. I understand the President has got all the 
materials for his Message now before him ; how far it has progressed I do not know." 

A Letter to the Same. 

"President's House, November 24, 1830. 
" I have no power to write more than to say I was all of yesterday, and until 3 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 191 

o'clock in the morning, engaged at the old work (preparing the Message), and again 
to-day ; and so I shall be continued on the rack until I depart, which 1 hoped would 
have been on the 1st or 2d proximo ; but, as I learn to-day that the Cabinet 
meeting as to the Message is not to be held until Saturday, I fear I cannot get away 
so soon. 

"lam now preparing the picture, which will be so much daubed by the different 
efforts at improvement, as probably to obliterate all I now do ; and then I shall have 
to work as hard again to restore the original or finish the substitute." 

A Letter to the Same. 

"President's House, November 28, 1830. 

"The Cabinet Council of yesterday went off well; there was very little daubing, 
and consequently but little reparation to be made. The Message will be a strong one, 
touching four or five most interesting points, on all of which the President is very 
explicit. The suggestions as to the Bank I do not approve ; his plan is impracticable ; 
I made efforts to amend and omit— neither would do. I write tliis to you that I may 
be on pnper in that view. All is going on well. 

" I have received great attention here, and am altogether gratified by ray visit. 
The refractory members of the Cabinet have become tame ; nay more, absolutely 
subdued." 

To the Same. 

" Washington, November 30, 1830. 
"As to the Message, the preliminary work is completed, and the reparation, 
after the Cabinet have passed upon it, is very excessive. I shall leave here on Tuesday. 
" ' The Phm ' is, I fear, not as well thought of by Yan Buren as it was ; he inti- 
mates an indisposition to be Vice-President, and some safe man is spoken of. This 
may be real, or to divert public attention. I have expressed a most decided opinion 
against its expediency. The difficulties in the Cabinet are drawing to a crisis, and 
one removal at least must be made (Ingham) ere long." 

A Letter to the Same. 

" President's House, November, 1830. 

" I am a prisoner in the house, condemned to unceasing labor. Last night I did 
not get to bed until between two and three o'clock, and to sleep only half my usual 
time. To-night my vigils will be more extended, for, by to-morrow evening, I hope 
to complete my preliminary labors. The President's kindness and confidence exceeds 
even what was before evinced. I therefore feel so much pleasure in serving him, 
that my labors are light as a lady's task. When the heart prompts us, there is no 
limit to our exertions. I think the Message will be better than the last one. To- 
morrow Mr. Vaughan gives me a dinner. 

" Van Sholten (Danish Minister) will return to New York probably with me, 
on his way to St. Croix, whither he is to be conveyed in a public ship. The rejec- 
tion of his propositions will be given in such mellowed terras as to take from it 
its sting." 



192 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Louis McLane to James A. Hamilton. 

"London, December 16, 1830. 

" My Dear Sir : I Iiave no time for <i long letter. But I am fTpprehensive, from 
tlie fact that I have never received your letter of July, which in another you slated 
you liad written, that some of mine also have miscarried, and that tliese are accidents 
peculiarly attending our correspondence. Will you do me the favor, therefore, to 
say whether you received a long letter from me by the pncket "which took out the 
result of my negotiation, and also a letter dated, I believe, the 0th of October, in 
■which I informed you that 1 had never received your letter of July, stated by you 
to be confidential ? 

" The revolution in Poland will give a new turn to affairs in Europe, but it is im- 
possible now to foresee its elfects. 

" I fear the elections are not as fixvorable as vve could desire, and that our old 
chief is carrying too much weight. 

" Believe me to be, &c." 



CHAPTEE VII. 



FEOM JANUARY, 1831, TO JAXUAEY, 1834. 

JForeign affairs — Vindicatioa agnin'^t Mr. Calhoun's charges — Mr. Rhind and the 
horses presented by the Sublime Porte — The negotiations with the Sublime 
Porte — Resignation of Mr. Van Buren — Changes in the Cabinet — The jewels 
stolen from the Princess of Orange — Their I'ecovery — The nuUificatiou niove- 
ment — Gibbs the pirate — The United States Bank — Resignation. 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Euren. 

"New York, January 10, 1831. 

" My Dear Sie : I wish you would send me a copy of the English and Danish 
correspondence. 

"When the Rev. John McVickar was in London, he endeavored to obtain copies 
of reports, &c., printed by order of Parliament, and in doing so received great assist- 
ance from Lord Lyndurst, Mr. Horries, and other distinguished gentlemen. In the 
course of his intercourse with the gentlemen named, he suggested the propriety of 
interchanges of such papers by our two governments. The intimation was well 
received, and he was assured that, if such a step was proposed, it would be adopted 
and acted upon by them in the most liberal manner. I therefore beg leave to sug- 
gest that you write a note to Mr. Vaughan, informing him that you have given 
orders that he be furnished with all Reports not of a confidential nature, that are 
printed for the use of the two Houses of Congress, that he may be enabled to furnish 
his government with such of them as are deemed useful. Ho will, without any in- 
timation from you, naturally, or rather necessarily, induce the same proceeding on 
their part ; and if he does not, by sending a copy of your note to McLane, the matter 
will be brought to the notice of the British Government, The information thus ob- 
tained would be highly useful to us in so many points of view, as really to make it 
an object of national concern. 

"With great regard, your friend, &c." 

Commander Navy Yard, Brooklyn, to James A. Hamilton, Esq., District 
Attorney of the Southern District of New York, 

"U. S. Navy Yard, New York,) 
"January 22, 1831. J 

" Sir : I had the honor this morning to receive your communication of yesterday's 

13 



194 REMIISISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

(late, and in repl}' to state, that the Vincennes is not detained on account of not receiv- 
ing funds, although the amount required has not been remitted, owing probably to 
the state of the roads. 

" If the necessary funds should not arrive in time, and the Navy Agent should de- 
cline furnishing the amount upon the necessary requisition approved by me, I will 
then avail myself of your kind oflfer to furnish the necessary funds. 

"The Vincennes is entirely ready for sea, so far as depends upon myself or Cap- 
tain Shubrick, and she will proceed on the first f^ivorable opportunity, because I do 
not feel authorized to detain her under the circumstances in which Governor Van 
Sholten is placed, although I have been informed by the Navy Commissioners that 
they had instructed Commodore Stewart and Mr. Humphreys to proceed to this 
place and survey the AHncennes, previous to her proceeding to sea. These gentlemen 
■have not yet arrived. I have the'honor to be, very respectfully Sir, 

" Your most obedient servant." 

Louis McLane, Minister, &c., to James A. Hamilton. 

"London, January 30, 1831. 
" Mt Dear Sie : I am far from thinking that the danger of a general war in Eu- 
rope has subsided. Peace cannot be considered safe until the difficulties in Belgium 
and Poland shall be settled, and these, I think, are increasing. The object of the 
London Conferences has been, in my opinion, to place the Prince of Orange on the 
Belgian throne as the nearest means of reconciling all parties to Belgian independ- 
ence, and in that way to preserve the peace of Europe ; but I do not bel'eve that 
object is attainable, and there can be little doubt that by the liberal party in France 
the Belgians have been encouraged to reject his pretensions. That party desires a 
union with France, and certainly a separation of Belgium from the policy and power 
of the allies. Their aim will not be easily baffled, and with this party Louis Phi- 
Jippe (now essentially a " legitimate"), at no distant day will have to try his strength. 
^Meantime, Belgium is threatened with counter revolution, with intestine divisions, 
-ivith a want of any lofty or sound sagacity, and with all the horrors of anarchy. 
"Either a counter revolution, or any of the other evils, must renew the war in that 
■country, and which could not be prevented afterward from spreading. There is too 
much well-founded jealousy with both England and France, of Russian power, to 
view without alarm the total overthrow of the Poles. It is obvious that the rights 
■secured to Poland by the treaties of Vienna have been shamefully violated, and if 
there be any force in such obligations, the allies ought not to leave those gallant peo- 
ple to the mercy of the Pvussian tyrant. No one doubts that the'vast military pre- 
^parations in Prussia previous to the Polish revolution were intended for operations on 
,a much larger scale than the Belgian theatre ; and as little can it be doubted that if 
Poland be now at once sufficiently subdued, the real objects of the Autocrat will 
.again revive. There would be little to prevent him in that event from strengthening 
.his forces with Austria, Prussia, and Holland, and marching at ouce into France. 
Neither England nor France can be supposed to be insensible to this danger, and it 
is already rumored that means are preparing to guard against it. If Poland there- 
fore can resist Russia for a time, the probability of war is great ; if she cannot, and 
Russia attempts anything further, war would be unavoidable. All these things will 
■soon come to a crisis however, and I may be able even to-morrow to add a postscript 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 195 

reporting the clioice of a sovereign in Belgium, for wliom tiie election was to take 
place on the 28th instant. I doubt if the public men are adequate to grapple with 
the events of the times, and my belief is that, if peace be preserved, it will be by 
chance. The spirit of free institutions is abroad, lias taken deep root, and tlie ex- 
plosion must come. It is, indeed, the spirit of freedom which is now rocking Europe, 
and what is thereto compose that spirit? Bayonets cannot do it, and monarchs 
will not ; therefore, these elements in my opinion are nut to know peace. 

" Your friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Andrew Jackson. 

"New Yoek, February 3, 1831. 

" Mt dear Sie : I had the pleasure to-day to receive a letter from our friend 
Major Lewis, in a P. S. to which he informs me in relation to the recent correspond- 
ence between you and the Vice-President tliat you had from the solicitations of the 
friends of botli parties promised to bury tlie aifair in oblivion, provided the other 
party will act in good faith. This disposition of the matter has given rise to 
difficult questions, as to what I ought to do in relation to tbe charges in these 
letters, and recently repeated in the public prints o f intrigues and mischief-makin;^'-r 
in which I am said to have participated. I wish to submit my views to you, in 
order that you may advise me as to my course. Wlien you first showed the letters 
to me, I intimated a question whether I ought not to write to Mr. Calhoun. I was 
not then anxious on the subject, because I foresaw that the letters must become 
public, and that I should then have an opportunity to do myself and another jus- 
tice. More recently, and after it was understood tiiat the Vice-Pi-esident intended 
to publish, I had collected the documents necessary to explain my participation in 
the matter, and was prepared to make such a publication (although, as I stated to 
Lewis, I would with great reluctance go into the public prints), as would show that 
the charge was groundless. My publication was then contemplated to be an answer 
to his letter to you, when that letter should be made public, as it was shortly ex- 
pected to be. That expectation is now destroyed, and thus arise the difficulties of 
my situation. Mr. Calhoun has made the charges in the letter to you. A copy of 
that letter has been gent by you to Mr. Crawford, and has been seen by Mr. Forsyth. 
Mr. Calhoun has shown the correspondence to his friends, and may have extended 
it far and wide. I cannot extend my denial and explanation as far as the charge 
has gone without publication ; and if I do so the step will almost unavoidably involve 
the deve''^vment of the whole matter, expose me to the further charge of having 
made tht ^.\iblication with mischievous intentions, and you, perhaps, as my know- 
ledge of what he has written is derived from you, with having acquiesced in a pub- 
lication by me for the purpose of getting the whole subject before the public. 
Another question may be made which is, whether your promise to bury, &c., ought 
not to bind your friends and control their conduct. The subject is full of difficulty; 
and notwithstanding the solicitude I must necessarily feel on this subject, I trust I 
am too sensible of the duties I owe to my friends, and particularly to you, not to 
be willing to take some risk of loss or to make a positive sacrifice rather tlian to 
expose them to injury by inferences that are illogical, unfair, and wholly unfounded. 
I have given you in this letter, written on the spur of the occasion, my first im- 
pressions, without having taken any decision, or even permitted myself to indulge 



190 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

a wish on the subject. And thus I determine to remain until I am advised by you, 
or sliall have fully and dispassionately deliberated upon tlie subject. 

" With the truest attachment, I remain, yours, &c." 

James A. Hamilton, U. S. Dist. Att'v., to President Andrew Jackson. 

[Official.] 

"New York, February 22, 1831. 
"Sir: I observe a Bill has been introduced, authorizing a recession of Fort 
Gansevoort in this city. I think myself bound to state that a suit is now pending 
on behalf of the Corporation to recover from the Government that property, and 
that, if they succeed, the United States will be entitled to receive from their grantor, 
Mr. John Jacob Astor, the consideration money they paid for the property, with six 
per cent, interest for six years; whereas, possibly, if this bill should pa=s, that 
right would be yielded. Under the circumstances, it is deserving of consideration 
wliether anything ought to be done on the subject at this time. 

"I have the honor to be, with great respect, yours, «&c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

"New York, February 24, 1831. 

"Dear Sir: I have the pleasure to inclose to you herewith the Neio Yorh 
Erening Post, containing my vindication from the charges insinuated against nie in 
Mr. Calhoun's letters and address. I hope it will meet with your approbation.* 
My object has been to avoid recrimination ; to present myself to the public as an 
injured person, and so most assuredly I am ; and to confine myself entirely to my 
own case. I liave the best evidence to prove that Van Buren determined, before 
the letter was submitted to yon, to have no concern in the matter ; but as I did not 
know what his wishes were on the subject, I have refrained from any allusion to 
him. It is manifest that he is the object of attack, and that he must come out; and 
when that is done, if he gives me permission, I will publish such parts of our cor- 
respondence as will show he was wholly disconnected from the matter. I have not 
written to you for a long time, because I did not choose to consume any portion of 
that time on which the public interests make such incessant claims. I hope you 
are in good health. 

"With the truest attachment, your friend, (fee." 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Buren. 

"New York, February 28, 1831. 
"My Dear Sir: I explained to Major Lewis or the President, in a recent letter 
tp be communicated to you, why I did not refer to you and our correspondence on 
the subject in my statement. I hope you are satisfied witli my course. 

"Mr. Calhoun's statement of the 24th instant, may call for a reply from me, and 
in it. I should like with your permis>ion to publish your letter asking for copies of 
the correspondence, &c., my letters accompanying them and your reply, or such 
parts of them as would not be improper to be made public. 

* See Evening Post, 24th February, 1831. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 197 

"111 my opinion, this correspondence fally disproves any plot in wliicli you par- 
ticipated wiih me, and it consequently disproves Mr. Calhoun's gross cliarges a'^^ainst 
me ; because, if you were not in a plot, lie will be at a loss to find the persons with 
whom I plotted. It also proves my re]uct:in.ce to send copies of the letters to "Wash- 
ington, a fact wholly irreconcilable with having been engaged in a plot, to bring, 
about a rupture between General Jackson and Mr. Calhoun. 

" I inclose you a copy of my letter to you by which it appears tliat I t/ten com- 
municated all the circumstances of my connection with the letter from Mr. For-^yth, 
and my correspondence wiih Calhoun. "Would this letter have been written to you 
if there had been any previous understanding between us? Certainly not — it is 
contrary to the nature of things. 

"If you have the slightest wish that I should not publish this correspondence, or 
refer to it, you must intimate it. Nothing shall induce me to do any thing that 
may be deemed inexpedient by you. 

" Your friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to the Duke De Regina. 

"New Yoek, March 5, 1831. 

"Dear Sir: I have the honor to inclose to you a letter I this day received from 
Mr. Daniel Brent, who is the chief clerk of the Department of Siate. 

"The practice of addressing communications to " the President and Members of 
the Congress," to which allusion is made, obtained under the old confederation of 
the United States, and was then correct, inasmuch as there was then no other organ 
of communication to the government of this country, the executivp, as well as 
legislative, power of the States being vested in the Congress, an assemblage of the 
representatives of the different States. But, after the adoption of the existing Con- 
stitution in 1789, the system was essentially changed, the executive, legislative, and 
judicial powers being vested in different departments. The first became, as regards 
foreign governments, the sole representative of the United States, and, consequently, 
the only organ of communication with them ; either directly when addressed by the 
executives of other governments, or through the Secretary of State, when addressed 
by their representatives. 

" I indulge the hope that this communication will afford you all the information 
you required on the subject to which it refers ; but if it should not, do me the favor 
to inform me in what respect it is deficient that I may have the pleasure further to 
serve you. 

""With sincere respect and regard, I have the honor to bs, &c." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

""Washington, March 9, 1831. 

"My Dear Sir: I have only time to snatch a moment to say a word to you. 

"We are pre^sed with grave matters, whicli require our undivided attention. Mr. 

Ehind will tell you what we have done and mean to do in regard to the horses* and 

the Charge d' Affaires. I wish you would try to keep him in good feeling about the 

* For the whole matter of Mr. Rhind and the horses see the correspondence further on. 



198 EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

former. I wrote you by yesterday's mail under cover to ISIr. CaTiibrelirig. The cor- 
respondence is almost forjfotten in tbe Western States, and we may soon bave mat- 
ters wbicb will entirely witlulraw public attention from it. But of tbis express no 

conjectares. Remember mc kindly to tbe family. 

"Yours truly, &c. 

" P. S.— Don't infer from my letter of yesterday, tbat I want you to say anytbing 
except in case of strong necessity." 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Buren. 

"New York, Marcb 12, 1831. 

" Mr Dear Sir : I have recently bad a conversation witb Mr. Gall.itin in relation 
to tbe decision of the King of tbe Netberlands. He says be has carefully traced, on 
an accurate map, the line said to bave been determined by tbe arbitrator to be our 
N. E. boundary, and finds that it gives to tbe Briti-b more than two fifths of the 
disputed territory. He further states that the arbitrator has not decided the only 
point submitted to him, viz : ' Where the line was to be run in pursuance of the 
Treaty f)/"l783." That was tbe sole point in dispute between tbe parties, and has 
been the sole subject of discussion, and was to be decided, so far as tbe principal line 
was concerned, by ascertaining what were the " highlands " referred to in that treaty. 
That instead of deciding this point by ascertaining the highland referred to, he has 
laid down a new line by way of compromise, which instead of passing along upon 
highlands runs along certain rivers. He says he was particular in forming the 
arrangement to refer to tbe subject to state the point submitted in such a way as not to 
give the arbitrator a discretion, and that be has constantly prompted Mr. Preble to 
insist tbat tbe decision should conform to that view of the subject ; and he insists 
that; this uncalled for decision is not binding upon the parties. As this is a subject 
of deep interest, as well because it involves a point of national honor, domestic 
tranquillity, and grave constitutional questions, I will, if you wish it, pursue the dis- 
cussion further with him, and give you bis more mature opinion. I am of the 
opinion tbat we may disallirm the decision from the considerations mentioned, as 
well as because the arbitrator was a political person known as the King of tbe Neth- 
erlands, and not the individual who wore the crown. That consideration, recognized 
by tbe usage of nations and founded on the soundest reasoning, will warrant us in 
taking tbe ground that tbe political person was gone, or so materially changed before 
tbe decision, as to avoid the whole submission and to make the decision that of a 
stranger. That these considerations, which might be merely theoretically true and 
yet of no practical importance, assume a much more serious character, when it is 
known that tbe political destiny of the arbitrator was, at tbe time of the decision, 
in tbe bands of one of the [larties to the controversy, and that delicacy should, under 
such circumstances, bave induced tbe King of Holland to decline the performance 
of a trust that was committed to the King of tbe Netherlands when England was a 
party, she being one of tbe first great powers then having under their consideration 
the future condition of tbis very King. 

" It is, 1 think, quite clear that tbe Federal Government has no power under the 
Constitution to give up any part of tbe States to another power. Tbe right to do so 
under the necessity wbicb might result, from a state of disastrous warfare would not 
depend upon the Constitution, but upon powers of a higher nuture — powers result- 
ing from principles upon Avhicb tbe Government itself depends, and w^ben their ex- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 199 

ercise might be called upon to preserve not only the Constitution but the Nation 
itself. Abandoning a portion of the territory under such circumstances, would be. 
only yielding to a necessity that could not be avoided, and therefore is above all 
considerations of rights, or powers, or principles ; and although a treaty might be 
formed under such direful circumstances which would abandon even a State, it 
would be considered to be made under powers newly acquired: the result of neces- 
sity, and consented to by silent acquiescence. The submission to an arbitrator to 
determine a disputed boundary does not involve the right to give up a portion of 
the territory ; because, although the decision may be against our pretensions, or those 
of the particular State, whereia that line was ascertained, cr if in any other 
manner the unfounded pretensions to such territory would be alone yielderl, and 
not the territory itself, as that would then be ascertained never to have belonged to 
us ; but when as in this case, our Government or its arbitrator should instead of 
determining the direction of the disputed line make a compromise which should 
either yield what belonged to us, or give us what belonged to another, the right to 
yield cr thus to acquire territory and population may well be questioned. If the 
arbitrator had decided that Mars Hill was the highland referred to, the power of 
the Government to acquiesce could not, I conceive, have been questioned ; but when 
lie throws out of view the natural objects referred to in the Treaty of 1783, and 
takes upon himself to establish a new line never contemplated by either of the par- 
ties, we so manifestly acquire a territory that we have no right to, or abandon that 
which does belong to us, that our power to do so must be well ascertained. I con- 
ceive that this is a case very different from that of the United States purchasing 
with the national funds adjacent territory, or yielding a portion of the national do- 
main in compromise, or for any other consideration. At all events, unless Maine 
fully acquiesces, the most prudent and safe course, I believe, for the administration 
will be — provided it is quite clear that we can do so consistently with national faith — 
to disavow the decision and immediately offer to leave it to some other power — 
Louis Philippe if you please. It becomes this administration to be constitutional 
and wholly American on this occasion, which is a very trying one. In the present 
temper and situation of England, there can be no fear of her taking high ground: 
and the only necessity will be for a demonstration of force on that frontier, as well 
to repress the attempt of the people of New Brunswick from asserting the rights 
they may believe they have acquired under this decision, as to prevent the people 
of Maine from taking the law in their own hands. 

'' Yours truly, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Buren. 

" New Yokk, March 22, 1831. 
" My Deae Sir : Your letter by Mr. Vail was received yesterday. I will observe 
all the caution you cnn desire in regard to the communication to which you refer. 
The matter stands well as it is. I apprehend that the gentleman (Mr. Gallatin) 
whose conversation I have merely referred to is not perfectly well disposed ; which 
I much regret because his good disposition on a delicate and difficult foreign mat- 
ter is quite important. I should think you must treat him in his own way. lie 
has two sons, both well educated and particularly well suited to le Secretaries of 
Legation. The father's long services, too, entitle them to your consideration, and 



200 llEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

thus the whole matter Avould be at rest. He suggested ia a conversation I had 
with him yesterday morning, before, Vail saw him, that the loss of territory was 
nothing, as the United States might give twice the quantity of better lands in the 
Western country— that the only point for Maine would be the loss of sovereignty 
over that territory; that Massachusetts would be gnitified— that Maine was shorn 
of half her extent. I am gratified that you have time to consider well of this matter, 
Preble's return might be useful. If Maine Avould be willing to acquiesce, the affirm- 
ative would be the best course. If she does not, there is nothing to be done, as 
I verily believe, but to consider the decision as not having been made. 

" Yours, &c., &c. 

<i p. S.— I have since writing the above, had an interview with Rhiiid. He is in 
a better temper than when I before saw him. The horses ought to be sold imme- 
diately and subject to the charges incurred ; indeed, I do not know how they can 
be sold otherwise." 

William C. Kives, Minister to France, to James A. Hamilton. 

(Received, May 13, 1831.) / 

" Paris, Mar>'h 24, 1831.^ 
"My Dear Sir: * * * * 'Whon I had the pleasure of receiving your very 
valuable letter, through Mr. Tliorn, last summer, I begged him to acknowledge the 
receipt of it for me, and to bear witness to you of the manner in which my time was 
absorbed here as some justification of my want of epistolary punctuality, intending 
always to seize the earliest moment of leisure to ofter you my acknowledgments 
under my own hand. So it is, however, that this Avislied-for leisure has retreated 
before me as I have advanced, like the horizon, and I now find myself as far from it 
as ever. I must beg you therefore to accept this huri'ied scrawl as all that circum- 
stances will yet permit me to offer you. It is impossible to give you any adequate 
idea of the disagreeable and vexatious character of my negotiations with this govern- 
ment for the claims ; so mucli reluctance to enter upon the subject, so many means 
of evasion, so many expedients of delay, so many complications by the introduction 
of other questions, and the exhibition of counter-claims, could be overcome or coun- 
teracted only by the most incessant dunning, and often after arguments addressed to 
the'r apprehensions. These obstacles I have experienced in fully as great a degree, if 
not greater, with the present government as with the last ; and, indeed, their alarm- 
ing financial condition gives some color of palliation at least to their conduct. You 
are aware that the subject was referred to a Commission of six members, my com- 
munications with whom, in the hope of getting from them as favorable a report as 
possible (though unofficial), brought upon my hands, necessarily, seven Ministers 
of foreign afl'aiis to deal with instead of one. Their report, I flatter myself, will 
now be very soon made, and the only responsible negotiation will then commence with 
the Minister of foreign affairs. The Pteport, though less unfavorable than it might 
liave been, will be yet very far short of our demands. My task with the Minister, 
therefore, will be an up-hill business ; but I shall do all that zeal and perseverance 
can accomplish. Tiie aftair, it is now well understood, can terminate only by a 
transaction. In this state of things it would have been very desirable to have had 
some indication of an amount for which the claimants would be willing to compromise. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON, 201 

I have, however, had none other than that which you lundly gave me in your letter 
— to wit : six millions of dclhir?, if we can— five millions, if we must. I should be 
very glad to know if you still think the claimants would be satisfied with this adjust- 
ment. The visionary and unfounded hopes that were at first inspired by the change 
of government, I take it for granted, have long ago given way to the evidence that 
is constantly reaching you of the overwhehning financial embarrassments of this 
country, and of the consequent reluctance that is felt to assume any new charge. 
Let not any one be Utopian enough to suppose that anything will be conceded to 
favor for the United States, or to imaginary political sympathies, which is not 
extorted by inevitable necessity. I have the best grounds for saying, that with a 
little time more I should have made a more advantageous arrangement with the last 
government, as great as the difiiculties wire that I had to contend wnth, than I can 
make with the present. I have no time for political speculations, for which, indeed, 
the materials afforded by the journals are so abundant, that your ow^n sagacity and 
judfiment will conduct you to sound conclusions without any aid from me. It is 
evident that the state of this country, as well as of Europe generally, is unsettled 
.ind quasi revolutionary at least. If I shall- ever get rid of this horrible subject of 
the claims, I sliall then have more time for writing to my friends, among whom I 
shall be particularly ambitious, by my punctuality at least, to merit the favor of your 
correspondence. In the mean time, I beg you to let me hear from you ; and praying 
to be recalled together with Mrs. Rives (who desires her best respects to yourself 
also) to the kind remembrance of Mrs. Hamilton, 

" I remain, very truly your friend, &c. 
" P. S.— Though it has been found impossible, I learn, to unite the whole of the 
claimants in any formal authority lo the Government to compromise for a round 
sum, yet if any number of the leading claimants, either in meeting or individually, 
would say what sum would be admissible in their opinion as a minimuvi, making 
that as low as possible, it might be the means of protecting the Government here- 
after against unfounded and capricious complaints. Suppose you confer wiih some 
of them in New York and get the opinions of as many of them as you can — the 
more formally expressed the better." 

NEGOTIATION WITH THE SUBLIME PORTE. 

The negotiation commenced by John Q. Adams when President, as before 
stated, resulted in a treaty with the Sullime Porte, who, when it was concluded, 
presented to Mr. Charles Rhind, one of the commissioners, Four Arah'an Horses: 
which he brought to New York, and, to the great annoyance of General Jackson, 
claimed to have a right to them. ; The following papers will explain that sub- 
ject : 

By John Q. Adams, when the Papers were delivered by me to the 

Writer. 

" These papers are left unsealed for Mr. Hamilton's perusal. As it is important to 
the secrecy desired by the President and Secretary, that the direction even should 
not be seen by any but those privy to the business, the whole is put in an envelope 
addressed to Mr. H." 



202 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Memorandum. The above is a copy of a short memorandum which accom- 
panied a letter to J. IJiddle, and copies of Spanish and French treaties with the 
Porte, and the instructions to Captain James Biddle, David Offley, and Charles 
Rhind, Esquires, to negotiate a treaty with the Sultan. They are appointed 
Commissioners. The Treaty is expressly confined to peace and commerce. 
They are expressly directed not to make a treaty which will interfere with our 
relations with other powers, and particularly our neutral character. They may 
make a treaty subjecting our trade to a duty of 5 ^c, but which by other arrange- 
ments only amounts to SJ '^L The French are admitted at a duty of 3 ^ for 
exports and imports. A secret article to be negotiated, by which we are to be 
admitted on the principle of the most favored nations after the expiration of 
the treaty with France, which will take place in one year. Allusion is made 
to the manner of treatinn; with the Porte, which is different from that of treat- 
inf with other nations. Allusion is made to presents being given, and it is sanc- 
tioned — authority being given to Biddle to draw on the Grovernment for funds. 

I wrote to Van Buren pointing out to him that the instructions spoke of 
the Sublime Porte sometimes as a thing, and in the singular number ; and some- 
times as a i^crson, and sometimes as persons, and submitted to him whether it 
would not be better to pursue the phraseology first referred to — Tlie Sublime 
Porte. I think from the expressions used in the treaty with France, they 
referred to the place of residence of the government court and the Port of Con- 
stantinople. 

Charles Rhind to Tue Hon. Martin Van Buren. 

" New York, April 2_, 1831. 

" Sir: I liave the lionor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the SOtli 
ultimo, in which you state ' that the President is anxious to close the affair of the 
liorse?, so far as he has any agency in the matter, as soon as that can with propriety 
and .safety to otlier intercuts he done.' 

"On that subject I shall only remark, that when I addressed you my letter of 
the 10th of December last, I indulged a hope that Congress would have acted a just 
and generous part, in return for my services and sacrifices, and if Government could 
show a legal claim to the horses, that at least funds would have been provided nnd 
arrangements made for a present in return, such as would become the dignity of tiie 
United Stutes. 

" You are aware of what has been done on both those occasions. 

" Legal advice of the highest authority (sanctioned by the opinion of distin- 
guished members of Congress) declares that Government has no claim whatever 
on the horses, and the matter must consequently take its course. 

"The ^ other interests'' to which I presume you allude, are the insults offered 
myself, and the reflections thrown upon our country by the conduct of my colleagues 
during their short stay at Constantinople ; this certainly must be acted upon before 
I could present myself to the Porte. The insults and abuse offered to me personally, 
the meanness of their conduct which rendered our nation contemptible in the eyes 
of the Turkish Ministers, and the gross indignity they offered to the Keis Effendi, 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 203 

require, I think, at least an expression of the opinion entertained bj the President ; 
and to speak candiJly, I expected this before now. 

" A perusal of the documents in your possession will show the imperious neces- 
sity of deciding upon this subject. 

" The President, I am sure, would neither wish nor expect me to present myself 
at Constantinople as an insulted and degraded representative of the United States ; 
little, indeed, would be my influence if I were thus to appear without some expres- 
sion of the Executive on the occasion. 

" This subject is of more importance to the dignity of the United States than to 
me personally, and I am glad you have not lost sight of it. 

" My detention at Washington has been a serious injury to me, and nnfortunately 
I have been unwell since my return. I have every reason in the world to urge my 
departure ; but with all my efforts I doubt whether I shall be able to leave this before 
the first week in May. I shall endeavor to procure a fast-sailing vessel in order to gain 
my destination as speedily as possible ; it will probably be about the 25th instant 
before I reach "Washington. 

" That there will be great difficulty in obtaining a ratification of the Treaty by 
the Porte, is very cei'tain. 

" It will require the utmost management ; and additional funds, I fear, will also be 
necessary to overcome the surreptitious attempts which will be made against us. 

" With your money affairs I will have nothing to do, but personally will render 
all the assistance I can. I beg you to assure the President that I will afford every 
aid in my power to accomplish this end ; but I confess I have great dread our 
antagonists will have been actively engaged, and they have too many unpleascmt 
facts to use on the occasion. 

" I have written to Mr. Navoni, urging his utmost vigilance — ^my sole reliance is 
on his keeping the intriguants at lay until I arrive ; he will announce to the Min- 
isters (and our x>ersonal friends) that I am on the way, and this, I think, will keep 
them quiescent. With great respect, I have the honor to be, sir, 

" Your obedient servant." 

Andrew Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, April 6, 1831. 

" Dear Sir : Mr. Van Buren has shown me a letter from Mr. Rhind whicii gives 
me much pain. I respect and esteem him, and should be sorry to find that he could be 
induced by the injustice which he thinks has been done to him to take ground now 
which would not only embarrass the service, in the final success of which his fame 
is so deeply interested, but seem also to give countenance to the imputations and 
acts of which he complains. It is my wish, therefore, that you should see him and 
have a frank and informal conversation with him on the subject matter, and I can- 
not but hope that he will upon further refiection be induced to abandon the ground 
he has taken in the letter referred to. When he left here, we understood that the 
only question w^as whether the horses would be sold before or after lie left the 
country, and in consequence of his thinking it best to defer it to the latter period, 
that course was concluded upon, and the matter would not have been further acted 
upon now, but for the opinion expressed, that Mr. Rhind had changed his views in 
that regard. By the inclosed letter of Mr. Rhind's which was communicated to 



204 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Congress, you will see tLe attitude in wLicli lie avouIcI be placed, if he were now to 
raise an objection to the sale, and how insufficient would be the ground derived 
from the expectation which he says he indulged, but which were not then made a 
condition. 

"The subject of the unfortunate difficulties between Mr. Rhind and the other 
commissioners was not alluded to by Mr. Van Buren in his letter, but it was to the 
ratification of the Treaty he referred. I have explained myself frequently to Mr. 
Rhind upon this subject, and inf mned him that, at least until the Treaty is finahy 
disposed of, I would not think it proper to take any steps in that respect, and iu the 
propriety of that cour.-^e I thought Mr. Rhind concurred. Mr. Rhiad knows the 
amount of funds which ha\e been appropriated, and that I have no power to add 
to them. Our wish is that Mr. Rhind should take all the papers for Commodore 
Porter at as early a period as possible, with authority, if any accident or other cause 
should prevent Commodore Porter from accepting the office and discharging the 
duty of effecting an exchange of the ratification, that then that duty should be 
discharged by Mr. Rhind himself. It is all important that we should know definitely 
what we may depend upon in that respect, as the time is running away. If Mr. 
Rhind, with a knowledge of all the circumstances, is either unwilling or feels himself 
incaiable of doing what we desire and expect from him, I hope he will let us know 
definitely, so that we may immediately dispatch a special messenger to Commodore 
Porter. The necessity of adopting this latter course would cause me much regret, as 
I am anxious that he should have the cred'.t of rss' sting in concluding the burliness. 
But we must run no risk that can be avoided. If even the true state of Mr. Rliind's 
health is such as to render it uncertain whether he can go on, I should prefer to 
send a special messenger immediately, and take the chance of Mr. Rhind coming 
on in season to afl'ord his country the benefit of his assistance. I prefer to send you 
this private and unofficial letter, to be seen by Mr. Rhind only, instead of a formal 
and official correspondence. I consider Mr. Rhind's future course in this business 
as a matter of public, as well as private, importance, and I want you to see ^nd con- 
verse fully, freely, and friendly with him. He kuOws our disposition toward him, 
and I cannot but flatter myself that however much he may feel aggrieved by the 
acts of others, he will not on that account omit to do anything in his power by 
which the public interest will be promoted — he is, I am sure, too public-spirited for 
that. Mr. Rhind will show you his letter to the Secretary of State, which will 
enable you to understand this letter. Make my best respects to Mr. Rhind, and let 
me hear from you as soon as possible, as I feel much anxiety on this subject. 

"Please tender to your amiable lady and family, my kind salutations, and believe 
me your friend." 

J.uiES A. Hamilton to Pkesident Jackson. 

"New YoKK, April 9, 1831. 
" Dear Sir : I had the jdeasurc this day to receive your letter of the 6th instant, 
and I immediately called upon Ih: Rhind whom I found obstinately bent upon insist- 
ing upon a claim to the horses. He showed me the letter of the 2d instant written 
by him and referred to by you. I pointed out to him the folly and indecorum of 
such a letter, and he consented to withdraw it, to which end he immediately wrote 
a letter to Mr. Van Buren which I inclosed to-day. He informed me that the horses 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 205 

were advertised for sale by the Consignees (tlie sale to be made in the first week in 
May). I endeavored to induce him not to make the sale, and urged every considera- 
tion as well of a legal as of a personal character to himself that I could think of, 
but in vain ; he insisted that he had legal advice that he had been ill used by Con- 
gress, and that his letter was written under the belief that justice would have been 
done to him. I refuted these positions without difficulty, but without producing a 
change in his determination. Under these circumstances I think it w^ould be well 
to send to me authority to the Marshal to sell the hordes, wliich I will not use unless 
it should be necessary— that is to say, unless he should persist in making the sale— 
when it may be done by the Marshal at the same time it is now advertised to be 
done by the Consignee, and thus mny be avoided the appeanmce of any controversy 
between Mr. Rhind and the government. I endeavored to induce him to postpone 
the sale until after his departure, but equally without success. I regret to add that 
I found Mr. Ehind (either from passion (.r avarice) wholly insensible to these jcon- 
siderations of delicacy which ought to have been paramount. He will sail from the 
first to the fifteenth of May, in a vessel bound directly for Constantinople, if it be 
possible. In the course of our conversation, referring to the possibility of his not 
getting there in time to aid Porter, I intimated, in order to try him, that it might then 
be necessary for Porter to call Offiey to his aid, and I found that this produced much 
uneasiness. Before this, he assented to the propriety of sending a messenger in 
advance to Porter, but afterward insisted that that would be unnecessary as he 
would be at Constantinople as soon as they would be there. He acceded to the 
propriety of your suggestions in relation to tliat part of his letter which refers to an 
expression of your opinion in relation to his colleagues. Inasmuch as his conduct 
in relation to the horses may be such as ultimately to preclude his being employed, 
I think it would be well to send Mr. Hodgson forthwith to Porter with the Treaty, 
&c., with instructions to the latter to go to the mouth of the Dardanelles to remain 
there until a given day. Such an arrangement will, I think, be a proper precaution- 
ary measure, and will have the effect of satisfying Mr. Rhind who, I believe, antici- 
pates much pleasure, if not profit, in returning to Constantinople with the Treaty. 
I will see him again to-morrow, and write to you again, should any thing further 
of interest occur. "With the truest attachment, your friend, &c." 



Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" April 6, 1831. 

" My Dear Sir : The inclosed, with the letter written by Mr. Ehind to me, will 
explain what is wanted of you. I was quite satisfied by Mr. Rhind's remarks before 
he left here, that it w^ould be advisable to defer the sale of the horses until after he 
was gone, for fear of the circumstance being used to our disadvantage. The remind- 
er that the Sultan is inclined to avail himself of the Emperor's present embarrass- 
ment to shake oflF the onerous obligation of the Treaty of Adrianople, gives increased 
interest to the whole subject, and makes us the more deeply deplore the course 
which Mr. Rhind seems inclined to take. He snys he will have uotliing to do with 
the money matters. If it would be perfectly agreeable to him, we could send Mr. 
Hodgson with him to guard against the accidents of death or sickness, or he might 
go on before and get Porter in readiness ; but I should like very much to have Mr. 



20G EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Rhind tliere when they first arrive. Have the goodness to devote your early and 
undivided attention to tlii^ matter, and let me hear from you as soon as possible. 

" Yours truly. 
"P. S. — I hope Mr. Illiind will see fit to withdraw his letter. I send you con- 
Jideniialhj a copy of it; hut you will still ask him to see the original." 

M. Vax Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

"April 6, 1831. 

"My Deae Sir: Could not Mr, Riker be of use to you in bringing Mr. Rhind to 
a sense of what is pro[)er, and save him from the consequences which will flow from 
his course ? ITe cannot, certainly, have reflected upon the consequences which may 
grow out of it." 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Buren. 

" New York, April 9, 1831. 

"My Dear Sir: I do not repeat to you what I have said in reply to the Presi- 
dent, as I presume you will see that letter. I find Rhind is disposed to behave 
shabbily on this occasion. He may liave the poor apothecary's excuse : 'His neces- 
sity and not his will consents.' In my conversation, which was conciliatory but 
quite frank, I found I could not create the slightest solicitude in relation to his 
character. He utterly denied that lie had concurred in the propriety of deferring 
the sale until after his departure, although I stated to him the President's assertion 
that it was s-o. Indeed, your statement is that he gave satisfactory reasons for such 
a course. Adieu. Your sincere friend, &c." 

Andrew Jackson to Col. James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, April 12, 1831. 

"My Dear Sir': The John Adams will sail in a ^Qvf days from Norfolk for the 
Mediterranean, and I have determined to guard against accidents by sending Mr. 
Ilodgson with the papers to Commodore Porter with instructions to the Commander 
to take the Commodore to Constantinople. If Mr. Rhind gets off by the time he 
contemplates, he will probably reach there as soon as the John Adams which may 
be detained here a week and possibly two, although I hope not. In my view of the 
matter, this is, I think, the best arrangement that can be made. 

" I am greatly mortified that any difllculty is made about the horses. I have 
directed an authority to the Marshal to sell the interest of the United States in them, 
to be made out and sent to you. Before that is done, I should like, in the absence 
of the Attorney General, to have your opinion as to the course to be pursued in this 
delicate affair. 

"Is it possible that Mr. Rhind can be insensible or indifferent to the ungenerous 
effect which this matter is calculated to have upon his standing in regard to the 
whole affair, and what a weapon he will put into the hands of his enemies?" 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

«AprU13, 1831. 
"_My Dear Sib: It has occurred to me that you might interpret the President's 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 207 

request for your opiniou in relation to the horses, into a wish that you should give 
it in person, aud I write you to inform you that such was not the case. The reason 
of my doing so you will better understand hereafter. I am preparing the authority 
for the Marshal, &c., and will send it on without waiting for your opinion. The 
President's request for it was upon my suggestion, and if from the press of business 
or any other cause it is at this moment inconvenient to you, it will do no harm to 
omit it. The design expressed in your letter to the President appears to be well cal- 
culated to avoid discreditable publicity to the unfortunate dispute. But I hope you 
will have been able to change Mr. Rhind's views bef»re this time, or that you will 
succeed in doing so hereafter. In haste, yours truly." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton, Esq., Attorney U. S. for 

Southern District of New York. 

"Department of State, "Washington, April 14, 1831, 

"Sir: Herewith you will receive, under a flying seal, a letter to Mr. Morris, 
Marshal of the United States at New York, directing him to receive from the per- 
sons having possession of them at present, the four Arabian horses presented by the 
Grand Sultan to Mr. Rliind, one of the late Commissioners of the United States, for 
negotiating a treaty with the Sublime Porte, and to dispose of the said horses, as the 
property of the United States, at public sale. You will receive, likewise, a Congres- 
sional document of the last Session, containing Mr. Rbinil's letter to the President, 
the President's Message to both Houses of Congress, and the Report of the Com- 
mittee of Foreign Relations of the House of Representatives, upon the subject of 
these horses. Mr. Rhind, by the letter referred to, having expressed a willingness 
as regards himself, to transfer to the United States any right, title, or interest which 
he might have to or in the horses in question, if it should be required of him to do 
so, and intimated that the other parties concerned would be satisfied with a full 
reimbursement of the expenses incurred in relation to them, including indemnity for 
all other charges incident to the said horses, the Marshal hiisbeen entrusted with this 
commission ; and he is particularly referred to you for your counsel and assistance in 
reference to the execution of it. I must beg you, therefore, to give him all the aid 
and advice which may occur to you as proper and useful on the occasion. He will 
have to depend on your good offices, in the first instance, fur getting the horses into 
his custody (and we shall reply upon the discreet interposition of them to that end), 
and afterward upon your advice as to the time and place of the auction, and other 
details. As far as these can be made conveniently subservient to the object of pro- 
ducing a general and fair competition of bidders, they should be determined upon 
with that view. I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant." 

James A, Hamilton to President Jackson. 

"New York, April 17, 1S31. 
"Dear Sir: I had the pleasure to receive your letter of the 12th instant on the 
16th instant, and in compliance with your request I immediately prepared an 
opinion on the case referred to, which would have been forwarded to you by the 
mail of yesterday but is withheld in consequence of a letter I received from Mr. 
Van Buren. I will only now remark that the right of the Government is perfectly 



208 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

clear, nnd tlie course to be pursued in order to as?ert it, that which you have con- 
templated. I take the liberty merely to add, that it would be advisable to authorize 
some person here to call upon Mr. Rliind for the release proffered in his letter of the 
10th December last. I had a very long conversation with him to-day, in which I 
endeavored to satisfy him that he had no legal right wliatever; that he wa-^ bound 
by regard to his own character not to set u[) a pretension so contrary to his letter; 
and, above all, that he owed a duty to you and Mr. Van Buren which commanded 
him to pursue a very different course. I am confirmed, by what passed in this con- 
versation, in the opinion I before expressed, that he looks forward with solicitude 
(in consequence of some commercial speculation) to being at Constantmople, when 
Porter arrives there. I did not think proper to make known to him your deter- 
mination." 

Opiniox of James A. Hamilton, District Attorney of the United States for 
the Southern District of New York, in the case of the horses presented by 
the Ottoman Porte to Mr. Charles Pthiud, Agent of the United States at 
Constantinople : 

Case. 

" Mr. Charles Rhind, Consul of the United States for the Port of Odessa, was 
duly appointed, together with Messrs. Biddle and Oflley, an Agent, with full powers 
to neirotiate a Treaty of Commerce with the Snlian of the Ottoman Empire. 

" Pursuant to his instructions, he proceeded to Constantinople, where he nego- 
tiated, concluded, and signed, a Treaty with the Porte, on the day of ■ 

1830. He thence went to Odessa, appointed a Vice-Consul, returned to Constan- 
tinople, when, on the 30th August, the Sultan presented four (4) horses to him, 
which he accepted because, as he says, 'the gift was one that could not be I'eturned 
without offence,' and to refuse it would be attended with injury to the interests of 
the United States. Mr. Rhind immediately had the horses appraised by competent 
judges on the spot, and took them wiih him to Smyrna, he being on his way to the 
United States. In a letter to the Pre-ident, dated tlie 10th December, 1830, Mr. 
Rhind, after reciting the manner in which the present was made to him, adds: 
'Having no funds of the United States or the means of raising them, to pay for their 
expenses and passage to America, I shipped them as a commercial adventure in the 
name and for the account of the owners of the vessel in Avhicli they came. The 
horses were consequently in their possession ; but if the United States have a claim for 
the value, I presume these gentlemen will pay it over should they sell for more than 
the expenses attending them which, of course, are very considerable. So far as 
regards myself, I am ready to transfer to the United States any right, title, or in- 
terest I may have in them, should it be required.' 

"Mr. Rhirid arrived in the United States in November, ,1830, with the Treaty, 
and has been paid for his services as such agent at the rate of four thousand five 
hundred dollars a year, up to a period subsequent to the date of the gift of the 
horses. 

" The Treaty has been ratified by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, 
and sent to Constantinople to be exchanged. 

"Tlie rule established by the 9th Section of the 1st Article of the Constitution, 
that ' No person holding any ofiice of profit or trust under them (the United Stales), 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 209 

shall, Avitlioufc the consent of Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or 
title of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or Foreign State,' when applied 
to the facts above stated, make the case so clear as to he beyond the reach of doubt 
or cavil. 

" 1. Mr. Rhind, at the time of the gift, held the office of Consul. lie had been 
duly commissioned, had atforded the security required by the Act of Congress. 
He had entered upon his duties, had appointed a Yice-Consul who was acting for 
him at the time the gift was made, and who, under the power so delegated to him by 
Mr. Ehiad, asked through the Secretary of Legation, Mr. Clay at St. Petersburg, for 
an Exequatur from the Emperor of Eussia. Mr. Rhind had not resigned, nor was he 
removed from his office of Consul, aud although appointed in the recess of the Senate, 
his nomination, it is understood, had subsequently been confirmed by the Senate. 
He was, therefore, clearly at the time the gift was made, holding this office of trust 
within the meaning of the Constitution. 

"2. Mr. Rhind had been commissioned by the President with all formality as a 
Commissioner to treat with the Porte; he had been received, had performed that 
service, and was still within the Turkish Dominions, although about to return to the 
United States. He was, therefore, accordiog to the laws of Nations, still a diplomatic 
functionary of the United States, and as such entitled to all the rights, privileges, and 
immunities of that station. There is no ditference in this respect between a Minister, 
or Agent, with full powers to ti-eat of all matters, and one with limited or specific 
powers, between an Ambassador or a pi-ivate Diplomatic Agent (after the latter has 
been received by the power to which he is accredited) ; each maintains a distinct 
Diplomatic relation with the Government to ■which he is sent, until after he leaves 
the Territory of the Foreign State. Each continues until that event the represent- 
ative of the Foreign power, and as such must be respected and treated. From these 
general principles, it necessarily results that Mr. Rhind, notwithstanding he had 
signed the Treaty, continued, according to the laws of Nations, to hold the office to 
which he had been appointed at the time the gift was made. But as to the rule 
referred to under our Constitution, the case is much stronger. The intention of 
that restrictive provision was to place persons holding offices beyond the influence 
(either through appeals to their avarice or ranity')^ of foreign Nations; and to give 
this intention full effects. The person to whom gifts are offered must be considered 
as in office as long as it is possible to suppose that the present may be induced by 
any act done by him while in office. It must be understood to mean, in the case 
of Diplomatic Agents, that they never can accept a present or title from a foreign 
State to which they ever were accredited. Any other rule would, as the House of 
Representative say, ' tend to the establishment of a precedent by which the guard of 
the Constitution against the acceptance of presents by our agents abroad would be 
weakened, and perhaps eventually broken down.' If it is admitted, as it is assumed 
in this case by Mr. Rhind, that as soon as the special object of the mission was 
accomplished, the Agent ceased to hold an office, and therefore ceased to be within 
the rule referred to, how ineffectual and absurd would be such a restriction ; it 
would wholly fail to reach the evil it was intended to prevent; for if a Diplomatic 
functionary was to be bribed, the price of his faithlessness never would be paid until 
after he signed the Treaty, and thus accomplished his work. This view of the sub- 
ject is too plain to require illustration. < 
14 



/ 



210 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

"The question presented by the facts is one between Mr. Rhind and his own 

Government, and how does it stand according to Mr. Ehind's own acts and admissions? 

" 1. He received his salary as Agent, for a period subsequent to the time the gift 

wasmade— thus admitting in the most authentic manner that he was then holding 

an office of trust or profit from the United States. 

" 2. He says in his letter already referred to : 'Although this ( the sending the 
horses to him) was evidently not intended as a present to me in my official capacity, 
since the Ministers were aware that I could not receive them as such ;' thus admit- 
ting that he was at the time the gift was made in an official capacity and that he had 
informed the Turkish Minister (on that occasion, that is to say, when the horses were 
sent) that he was forbidden by the laws of his country to receive a present; he then 
being an officer of the United States, it must be assumed that he informed the Min- 
isters on that occasion of that rule of our Government, in order to avoid the humil- 
iating idea that, uncalled for by any circumstance, he had prompted the oiftr of a 
present by a voluntary conversation on that subject. 

" 3, He says he had them ' immediately appraised on tlie spot.' To what end 
was such an appraisement made? "Why, clearly because he considered the horses, 
when accepted for the reasons he gave, as belonging to the United States; and as he 
intended to ship them as a commercial adventiire for account of the owners of the 
vessel in whicli they came, and in part payment of the individual credit he had re- 
ceived from them, that he might pay the appraised value to the United States. This 
could be the sole object of that appraisement; additional force is given to this idea 
when it is remarked that this statement of the horses having been appraised is made 
in connection with another, to wit: that ' I was consequently olliged to talce tlicm and 
relinquish the purchase of those I had selected.^ 

"4. Mr. Rhind, in the same letter, not only assures the Government that in his 
■opinion the consignees of the horses will pay to the Government the value of the 
horses over the expenses, but that so far as regards himself he is ready to transfer to 
the United States any right, title, or interest he may have in them, should it be re- 
quired. Thus placing the whole subject within the control of the Government with- 
out condition or qualification. 

" From these considerations it is quite clear that Mr. Rhind or the consignees of 
the horses can have no claim to them beyond the expenses incident to their trans- 
portation and keeping ; and it is equally clear that when they were accepted, as the 
Agent could not take them for himself, he must have accepted them for the United 
States and as their Agent or Trustee, and as such he now holds them, 

" Under these circumstances the United States may pay the expenses to which I 
have referred, and take the horses to be disposed of when and as they see fit ; or 
they may sell them subject to those expenses or they may permit them to be sold by 
the consignees and call upon them for the surplus proceeds of such sale over and 
above the expenses. 

"In this view of the whole matter, perhaps the best course for the President 
would be to authorize the Marshal of the United States or some other person in New 
York to make a sale of the horses, or to cooperate with the consignees in making 
such sale ; with directions, if the horses sell for more tlian the amount of the expenses, 
(to be settled as though the transaction was betw-een Mr. Rhind and the consignees), 
to demand that amount from the consignees, und if tliey refuse to pay it over to the 
United States, to commence a suit for the recovery of the same, with instructions, 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 211 

however, on behalf of the Government first to require Mr. Rhind, in pursuance of 
the offer contained in his letter, to transfer to the United States all his right, title, and 
interest in the horses. 

" James A. Hamiltox. 
"New York, April 16, 1831." 

James A. Hamilton to the Honorable John Forsyth. 

"New Yoek, April 18, 1S31. 

"Dear Sir: In reply to your letter of the 4th ultimo, on the 13th of that month 
I addressed a letter to you at Milledgeville not knowing that you had changed your 
place of residence. Do me the favor to inform me -whether you have received it or 
not. I have the pleasure to acknowledge your favor of the 23d ultimo, and to thank 
you for your attention in sending me the newspaper it covered. Do me the favor to 
recall me to the recollection of Mrs. Forsyth and the other members of your family. 
" I have the honor to be, with great respects, yours, &c." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton, Attorney U. S. for the Southern 

District of New York. 

"Sir: According to the couchuling paragraph in the letter from Mr. Charles 
Rhind, one of the late Commissioners of the United States, for concluding a Treaty 
with the Sublime Porte, to the President, dated the 10th of December, 1830, a 
printed copy of which letter is herewith transmitted to you, in relation to the four 
Arabian horses whie-h were presented to him, Mr. Rhind, by the Grand Sultan, it is 
distinctly understood, that he would be ready to transfer to the United States any 
right, title, or interest Avhich he had to or in those horses, 'should it be required.' I 
am directed by the President, therefore, to ask the favor of you, as I accordingly do, 
to require Mr. Rhind, in his name, to transfer to the United States aU the interest 
which he has in the said horses, and to deliver them to such person as you may 
authorize to receive them. 

" The President relies upon your prudence and discretion for a satisfactory exe- 
cution of this commission, and I I'emain, Sir, respectfully, your obedient servant. 

"April 23d, 1831." 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Buren. 

" New York, April 23, 1831. 

" Dear Sir : For two or three days past I have been negotiating with Mr. Rhind 
and his counsel without success. Tbey persisted in their legal rights, and refused to 
permit the horses to go into the Marshal's possession under these circumstances, as 
the Marshal's instructions are ' to receive possession.' I have thought it best for him 
to call upon the persons who have the horses in possession, to require their delivery, 
and in the event of their refusal to deliver them, to report that fact to the Govern- 
ment and await instructions ; if it is deemed important to go further, perhajjs all the 
President can now do will be to instruct the Marshal or District Attorney in behalf 
of the Government, to give notice to the Messrs. Ilowland's not to pay over the pro- 
ceeds, in order that a suit may be instituted to settle the question and obtain the 
proceeds after paying the expenses. Yours, &c." 



212 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Andrew Jacksox to Col. James A. Hamilton, 

" WAsniNGTON, April 23, 1831. 

"Dear Sir: I have directed instructions to be given to you to require from Mr. 
Ebind the release of the Arabian liorses proifered in bis letter of the 10th of De- 
cember last. I cannot permit myself to doubt bis compliance vinth tbis request. I 
feel for Mr. Rliind's welfare, and shall always be disposed to do justice to the zeal 
he has manifested in the public service ; but it is due to candor, as well as to himself, 
that he should know that, if he should prove capable of refusing to comply with the 
promise be has made iu tbis respect, and which has been formally communicated to 
Congress and the nation, no confidence between him and the Government will, for 
tbe future, be advisable. I will thank you to communicate this to him in the most 
kind manner in which it is dictated. I would deeply regret that his public services 
should wind up in this untoward manner; but the credit and character of the public 
peace must go before all personal consider^jlions. 

" I am, very respectfully, your friend." 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Buren. 

"New York, April 21, 1831— 9 J p.m. 

" My Dear Sir : Campbell and John have called upon me, the former in extreme 
agitation, to ascertain from me the truth of a report too strange to be true, and yet 
too well vouched to be disbelieved, to wit : ' That you have resigned.' I confess to 
you that I was mortified as well as grieved. Mortified that you should have taken 
such a step and left me to learn it in the streets, and deeply grieved that any thing 
should have occurred to render such a measure necessary. I cannot conjecture a 
state of things to justify you iu withdrawing your services from our friend, particu- 
larly at this juncture. I am bound, however, to believe that you will be enabled to 
justify your course to your friends and to the public, and that that justification will 
not be inconsistent with the just respect and confidence which both have entertained 
for the President. In the wbole course of my life I never felt such intense anxiety 
as I do at this moment. Tbe wbole has come upon me like a visitation from above, 
and I am consequently utterly at a loss to account for so strange a change. Adieu. 

" Your most anxious friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to "William B. Lewis. 

"New York, April 21, 1831—10 o'clock p.m. 
"Mt Dear Lewis : What does all tbis mean ? Van Buren resigned and Eaton 
resigned, and I am left by you and by all in entire ignorance of the fact and of the 
causes which have led to such important changes. I will not permit myself to con- 
jecture or to form opinions as to whether snch a measure was called for or not, but 
I will merely say, changing the language of Lord Kenyon in a single word, ' When I 
desert my President, may God desert me.' I have been asked tbis morning by a 
great many wbat all this means, and have been compelled to say I am wholly igno- 
rant of wbat I think I may say, without arrogating too much to myself, I had a right 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 213 

to be informed about as soon as almost any other person in this city. Adieu. I 
retire anxiously waiting for the developments of the morning. 

"Your sincere friend, &c." 



Martin Van Bdren to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, April 25, 1831. 

" My Dear Sir : I am anxious to hear what you think of the late movements 
here, as I have great conlidence in the soundness of your judgment in such matters. 
I presume Mr. Ludlow has explained to you why I thought it best, as I could not 
confer with my friends, to write to no one on the subject. I was once or twice on 
the point of mentioning it in one of my letters, but, for reasons which you will appre- 
ciate, concluded it was best to leave all my friends in New York in the same situation . 

" I see by a note from Cambreling that he is under great alarm. He had seen a 
note I wrote to Mr. Butler, apprizing him of wliat was to take place, and which was 
intended to prepare our friends at Albany, when the Legislature was in session, for 
the event. Yours truly, &c." 

" P. S. — Our accounts from every quarter are favorable to the movement. I 
never felt less embarrassed as to my own course than I did in this." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. (Private.) 

" Washington, April 25, 1831. 

" My Dear Sir : Since writing you to-day I have received yours of the 23d. 
You have before this received mine, inclosing authority to demand the Assignment 
from Rhind, accompanied by the President's private letter. I cannot but hope that 
that will bring him to his senses. If it does not, let me know in a private letter 
whether special directions to give tlie notice to the Ilowlands is necessary, or 
Avhethcr that is not included in the general instructions you have received to give 
all necessary counsel, &c. I was mortified to hear nothing from you upon the sub- 
ject of recent events here, as I expected you would sit down immediately and give 
me your views npon the matter ; but for the first moment I am apprehensive that 
you are dissatisfied with me for not apprizing you of it, and I am sorry I did not. 
But in the present excitement of the times here, I, without much reflection, thought 
it best not to say anything to any of my friends upon the subject, to avoid those ever- 
lasting jealousies by which I have been so much annoyed, and I thought if there was 
any man on eartli who would see into and fully appreciate my motives, you were 
that man. If I am mistaken, let it pass ; and even if I am right, dismiss the matter 
from your mind without observation, and let me hear from you. I had already 
delivered my resignation. I believed, at all events, it was settled that I would do 
so before Hoyt leftliere, and I thought for a moment to write you and Cambreling 
by him, but concluded it would be best to let it alone, and let him go off without 
the slightest hint upon the subject. Cambreling got his information at Albany from 
Butler, to whom I wrote a short note, as I stated to you this morning. I am thus 
particular on this subject because I would not for the world that you should for a 
moment harbor the thought that my confidence in, or regard for you, whicii I have 
cherished with so much sincerity and disinterestedness, had slackened iu the slight- 



214 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

est degree, "^e have really been so mucli under whip and spur here for a few 
weeks past, that we had but little time or opportunity for reflection. The Cabinet 
will be Livingston, McLean, White, and Woodbury ; and if Berrian resigns, some one 
from Virginia, not yet decided upon ; but as tbese are not all certain you will, of 
course, say nothing about it for the present. 

"Pweinemher me kindly to your family, and believe me to be truly yours, in 
haste, &c. I hope to see you soon." 

James A. Hamilton to Martin Van Buren. 

" New York, May 1, 1831. 
" I received, my dear friend, your letters of the 25th ultimo, yesterday, on my 
return to the city, or they would have been answered sooner. Your course has 
been dictated by profound wisdom. It is a stroke of a master, and will be rewarded 
with entire success. You retire with the confidence of the President, and have 
secured the attachment of all his friends, while you have disarmed your and his foes. 
Heretofore, with all your advantages, you wanted in the general estimation the 
assurance of your power to fill a large space in the general atfairs of the country. 
Your short term of service has given the most satisfactory evidence that your qual- 
ifications extend to any situation to which you may aspire. Availing yourself of 
late events, you retire from the public service with reasons that do you honor, and 
you avoid all the difficulties and, perhaps, disasters which events, not at all improb- 
able, may bring about ; for it is not in human aff'airs and particularly in those of 
public men, to go on with uninterrupted success. The boundary line question, cer- 
tain nppointments, the bank, the surplus revenue, and some anticipations, par- 
ticularly those connected with atfairs abroad, give to the future an aspect from 
which assured confidence alone could anticipate success. All this you avoid, and 
you go before the people, if such be your pleasure, exactly in the manner a wise 
politician could wush : with the bitterest hostility of your enemies, the warmest sup- 
port of your friends. This is my view of this subject as it respects you. As to 
the President, I confess I have some gloomy apprehensions which, however, are in 
some degree diminished by the Cabinet. As you have stated it, I must say that as to 
Woodbury I have great doubts. He can give the President no political strength ; 
and he was engaged in the cabal with Callioun and Tazewell at the first formation 
of the Cal)inet. He knows, or believes, he must be suspected, and will therefore 
probably be false; however, of all this you are better informed than I can be. As 
to the most interesting part of your letters, I forbear to remark on it because yon 
have expressed a wish that I should dismiss it from my mind. I confess, the reserve 
on the part of the President and yourself has deeply, very deeply wounded me, not 
becnise I have been denied the small gratification of knowing a little more or a 
little sooner than others, what was going on, but from deeper considerations, con- 
nected with much more interesting matter. I will write to you again in a day or 
two. With undiminished confidence and attachment, 

" Your friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to William B. Lewis. 

" New York, May 3, 1831. 
" My Dear Sir : In your letter of the 2Gth ultimo, referring to my silence in rela- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON, 215 

tion to the recent changes, you ask me, "What is the matter with you? " Permit 
me, as I live east of the Hudson, to use the privilege of a Yankee — to answer your 
question by asking another: WJiy were you so silent in relation to those changes? 
You knew of them ; you wrote to me after they had been made, or at least had been 
determined upon. I asked you a question in relation to the rumors in regard to Ing- 
ham. We had conferred long ago in relation to changes not extending so far as 
these have done by one step only. There has been no reserve heretofore ; why 
then, I ask and confidently indidge the hope tliat you will give me an explicit an- 
swer, were you silent? "Were yon requested to be so, and by whom? It could not 
have been from a want of confidence that I could keep a secret — what then was it ? 
It was not the i-esult of a general plan, because others were informed with the ex- 
press intention that it should be divulged to members of our Legislature. If the 
I'eserve was occasioned by what heretofore passed between the President and my- 
self, looking to this conjuncture (if you know what that w'as, you will understand 
me — if you do not, you never will from me), I liave tlien been treated with this 
w^ant of confidence, founded on a false appreciation of my character, and particular- 
ly of my devotion to my friends. I enclose a letter I wrote within the first half hour 
that I heard the rumor. Pead and destroy it ; it must not be shown to any 
other. I think Van Buren has made a master's stroke which cannot but redound 
to his advantage, and may be useful to the President. There were two courses — 
one, that which has been taken, which is probably the best ; the other, to have 
made an authoritative change in three of the Departments. The boldness of the lat- 
ter course would have commanded respect, and probably have produced intimida- 
tion ; and at the same time it would have aftbrded an opportunity to have made an 
exposition in relation to recent events that would have been useful. I am entirely 
satisfied, however, that the course which has been pursued will give Van Buren a 
strong hold on the public. The i)roposed Cabinet is a strong one. I sincerely hope 
Judge White will not decline. He is the balance wheel of the whole. I inclose a 
letter to the President. Yesterday I wrote fully to Mr. Van Buren. See my letter 
to him. •'• Your sincere friend, &c." 

It may, connected with Van Buren's course toward me on this change 
of the Cabinet, not be improper to express my opinion as to his motive for con- 
cealment of so important a purpose. 

The President at one time told me that he wanted me near him, and that I 
should take the place of Secretary of the Navy. At another, that I should 
take the State Department when Van Buren should leave that place, as be 
would do ere long. 

No man was more true to bis friends and to bis word than Jackson was. 
I have no doubt that Van Buren knew the President's wishes and feelings in 
regard to me ; and be feared, should 1 be informed of the proposed change, that 
I might recall to the President's recollection bis enfrajrements with me. I most 
certainly would not have interfered, by my presence or otherwise, with the 
proposed arrangements. ' 

[ The changes certainly strengthened the administration. The first was, I 
verily believe, the most unintellectual and uneducated Cabinet we ever bad. \ 



21 G REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Van Burcn -was sagacious; he bad no pretensions to being a statesman, be 
had no skill in composition. His first report in 1829 required much emenda- 
tion. I remained with him after be entered upon the duties of his office, in 
April, 1829; we lived together at a private boarding-house until about June 
8, 1829. During that time, in conversation about the historical events of this 
A and other countries, I was amazed to learn how uninformed he was. He de- 
pended upon his son John to aid him in his writings, until he got Mr. Benja- 
min Butler, afterwards Attorney-General, upon whom he essentially depended. 

Ingham, who was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, came to Washington 
\ seeking the place of Comptroller. This was his and his friends' appreciation 
of his ability. 

Brent had not one quality to fit him for the place he held. Secretary of 
(J the Navy ; and Eaton was made Secretary of War because, as Jackson told me, 
he " must have a friend about him upon whom he could rely." 

J. Macpberson Berrien, Attorney-General, was the only man of education 
among the whole. 

Mr. Donelsou, the President's Private Secretary, was an intelligent and in- 
structed man. 

James A. Hamilton' to President Jackson. 

" New Yoek, May 3, 1831. 
" My Deal: Sir : I wrote a very hasty letter to you on Saturday. Sunday and 
Monday I could not write as I intended, because I could not see Eljiiid. Yester- 
day evening I received the inclosed note from biin, and to-day have seen him. He 
has agreed to give an order to the Messrs. Howland's to pay over to me the balanc,e 
of the proceeds of the sale of the horses after deducting expenses, to be held subject 
to your order ; thus in effect doing all that could be wished. The Marshal, it is 
agreed, is to attend at and cooperate in the sale. I drafted the order on the How- 
land's fur bini, wbicli be lias taken to submit to bis counsel, and to bring it to me in 
Court whither I am about to go. I will send a coin- of it with an official letter to 
Van Buren to-day, if I have time ; if not, to-morrow. I have written fully to Van 
Buron and Lewis my views in relation to recent changes, and have exjiressed to the 
latter the pain I liave felt in consequence of the reserve which has been observed 
toward me on the occasion. I fear that on this occasion you have not sufficiently 
appreciated the disinterested devotion I feel toward you, and which I am capable 
of exercising Avlien circumstances require it. I will only add that your choice of a 
Cabinet is most excellent. 1 doubt a little about tlie Navy, for the reasons I have 
given Van Buren. Witb the truest attachment, 

" Your friend always, «fcc." 

James A. Hamilton to the President oe the United States. (Private.) 

" New Yoek, May 3, 1831. 
"My Dear Sir: Mr. Bbind has executed the order upon the Ilowland's as I 
drew it, merely adding that I am to liold the funds until the final decision of the 
President which makes no material dilierence in the matter. 



EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON.N 217 

" The solicitude Mr. PJiind manifests that the Jolin Adams should be detained, 
and that she should not go to Smyrna — results from a state of things which it is 
proper you should know. Eckford has built a Corvette, and proposed models of the 
vessels. Eckford and Ehind are to go over in her ; she is to be sold to the Sultan, and 
contracts are expected to be made for other vessels. I know of nothing between 
the Turks and Russians at present that Avould render these transactions illegal. How 
far they may be deemed of so questionable expediency as to render it proper for the 
Government to keep entirely aloof from them, I cannot judge. I incline, hoAvever, 
to the opinion that these facts, connected with the rejection by the Senate of the 
second Article, should iuduce you not to allow or order a further delay of the ship; 
but it would be well that she should not go to Smyrna. 

"I write again in extreme haste in Court, and amid the entanglement of law- 
yers, &c. " With the truest attachment, your friend." 

Charles Rhind to Howland & Aspinwall. 

"New York, May 3, 1831. 

" Gentlemen : The Marshal, under the advice of Mr. Hamilton, District Attorney, 
will unite with you in the sale of the four Arabian horses, and after deducting from 
the proceeds the amount expended in transporting them from Constantinople to this . 
City and keeping them here, together with the expenses of the sale, you will pay 
over the balance to J. A. Hamilton Esq., subject to the orders of the President, until 
final decision is made by him on the subject." 

James A. Hamilton to the Hon. Martin Van Buren, Sec'y of State, 

Washington. 

"New York, May 4, 1831. 

"Sir: In obedience to your letter of the 23d ultimo, I had an interview with 
Mr. Ehind on the 8d inst., when it was agreed between us that the Marshal of the 
H. S. and the Consignees, the Messrs. Howland's, who had before refused to deliver 
the horses to the Marshal unless their advances were paid, should cooperate in the 
sale which had been advertised for the 15th inst. in this city, and that, after deduct- 
ing from the proceeds of such sale the amount expended in transporting the horses 
from Constantinople to this city and keeping them here, together with the expenses 
of the sale, the balance should be paid over to me to be held subject to the order of 
the President. In pursuance of that agreement, Mr. Rhind immediately executed an 
order upon the Messrs. Howland's, who upon presentation accepted the same. A 
copy of the order with the acceptance is inclosed, the original being returned by 
me to be delivered to them whenever it is complied with. 

" This arrangement was proposed by Mr. Rhind, as one by Avhich the intention 
of the President in relation to the horses could be carried out with coraidete eliect 
and acceded to by me ; because, as the Government could only be entitled to receive 
the horses after the expenses to which the Consignees and Mr. Ehind had been ex- 
posed in bringing and keeping them were paid, and as no funds were appropriated 
to pay these expenses, that could be best done by deducting the same from the pro- 
ceeds. It was also believed that, as the horses had been advertised for sale at a 
period when those persons from all sections of tlie country who would probably 
be disposed to purchase these animals were drawn to this city by the approaching 



2 18 REMINISCLNCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

races, tliey would sell to greater advantage than if tliey were taken by the Marshal 
raid advertised for sale at a remoter period. 

"These considerations and others have induced me to exercise a discretion 
which I believed was committed to me on the occasion, and which I hope will meet 
with the President's approvaL I have the honor' to be, 

" With very great respect, 

" Your Obedient Servant." 

President Andrew Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" WAsnixGTON, May 4, 1831. 
" Dear Sik : Mr. James Coggeshall, of New York, has communicated to me in 
confidence the substance of certain disclosures made to him by the pirate Gibbs, 
also .James D. Jeffrees, recently executed in New York. The facts as stated are of 
deep interest, and if Coggeshall is as honest and respectable a man as he is repre- 
sented to be, the subject ought to be sifted to the bottom. I have informed him that 
I can take no stejis in the matter until I hear from jou, by whom the prosecution 
against the jjirate was conducted, and have advised Mr. Coggeshall to return 
to Now York and communicate the whole matter to you. You will please to send 
for him and receive his statement in form ; and report it to me, with the best evi- 
dence you can ujion a full and careful examination obtain, as to the credibility of 
Mr. Coggeshall, the probable character of his motives for making the disclosure to 
government, and tlie circumstances under which the confessions were made by the 
deceased pirate. Any .suggestions you may thiuk proper to make upon the subject 
will be thankfully receiveJ. 

" A^ery truly yours, etc." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

" New Yokk, May 5, 1830. 

"Mr Dear Sir : I had t!ic pleasure to-day to receive your letter of the 2d inst. 
The inclosed letter intended for the State Department will show the completion of 
the business to which yours refers. I hope the course I have taken Avill mett your 
approbation. Mr. Khind said he had a conversation on the subject with Mr. Edward 
Livingston, who gives it as his opinion that the course pursued was the wisest in 
reference to the Treaty. I inclose my official letter open to you, in order that, if it 
shoulil be considered best to be withheld or varied in any part, it may be re- 
turned for that purpose. I sincerely hope your friend "White will accede to your 
Avishes, althougli I fear it will be against his feelings to do so. The approval of re- 
cent movements is manifesting itself very generally. "With the most sincere and un- 
alterable attachment, I remain, 

'•Yours, &c." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, May T, 1831. 
" Mt Dear Friend : I embrace the opportunity offered by Mr. Trist to say a word 
to you. The spirit manifested in your last is precisely that which I should have 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 219 

expected from yoa. Dismiss the subject from your mind -vvitli tliis assurance that 
there is not now, nor has there at any time been, the slightest abatement of the con- 
fidence and affection on tlie part of the President or myself toward you. To the 
extent to which appearances may at any time have given countenance to a different 
state of things, they -were deceptive. I have not shown him your letter because he is 
sufficiently worriel by otlier matters; and I could not bear to inflict upon him the 
mortification which the consciousness of such an apprehension on your part would, 
I know, produce. When I see you — which will be, I hope, in a few weeks — we will 
talk over matters and things. In the mean time, I say to you in confidence that, 
although I have not yet finally decided to go to England, I am inclmed to think that 
I will come to that result. I should be pleased to give you my reasons for thinking 
it the preferable course (in which you would concur) ; but they are too much for a 
letter, and Mr. Trist is waiting. I was very anxious to hear your opinion as to the 
propriety of the recent movement here, and happy to find that it was so favorable. 
It has been and continues to be a very painful one; but every day's reflection con- 
vinces me of its propriety. 

" Believe me to be, very truly yours, &c. 

"P. S. I congratulate you on your success with Mr. Ehind. You can have no 
idea how this small matter has worried me— if it hod gone otherwise, a degree, and 
no inconsiderable one, of discredit would have been thrown upon the whole negotia- 
tion. The President's letter was the last shot in the locker, and I placed much 
reliance upon it under your skilful direction." 

James A. Hamilton to the Hon. M. Van Buken. 

"New York, May 14, 1831. 

" Sir : I have the honor to inform you that the four Arabian horses, presented by 
the Sultan to Mr. Ehind and brought by him from Constantinople to this City, were 
this day sold by Public Auction at Tattersals (the place at which h()r>es are usually 
sold in this city), to-day at 13 o'clock, for the aggregate sum of nineteen hundred 
and ninety dollars ($1990). 

"There was a very great assemblage at the sale, and everything vras done to 
obtain the best prices. The inclosed is a copy of the advertisement of sale. 

" An account of the expenses of transportation, keeping, and sale will be present- 
ed to me without delay and forwarded to you in order that I may receive the 
President's instructions in relation to the same. 

" Very respectfully, your obedient servant." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

" New York, May 18, 1831. 
"My Deae Sir: I have the pleasure to inclose to you a letter recently received 
from Mr. Rives. Be so good, after you have read it, as to reinclose it to me. In com- 
pliance with his wishes, I am taking means to induce the claimants * to authorize a 
compromise. The lowest sum to which they will assent will jn-obably be five 
million dollars. If there is any information at Washington tliat sliould induce a 
behef that as large a sum as that cannot be obtained, I should like to know it in 



* On France. 



220 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

order that I may endeavor to depress the expectations of the claimants even more 
than I liave ah-eady done. It would afford me the most sincere pleasure to be of 
service to the government in this case, as it would at all times and under all circum- 
stances, my dear friend, to serve you. I have looked with great solicitude and the 
sympathy of a friend to recent events and their consequences as to our country and 
the fame of my chief, and with the utmost pleasure I haye come to the conclusion 
that all has been not only well done, but that it will result as well as could be 
expected or wished. 

" I remain, with the truest attachment, your friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

"New Yoek, May 22, 1831. 

"MyDeakSik: You will have learned from the newspapers that there has 
been a Convention of Manufacturers in this city, at which a Connecticut man made 
a foolish speech. I would not call your attention to this meeting if that was the 
only foolish thing they did. There was also a private informal meeting of the leaders 
of anti-masonry, and formal propositions were made by the former to the latter that 
they should unite in the support of Clay, which were rejected, the anti-masons 
declaring that they would be consistent throughout and stand or fall by their princi- 
ples. This determination, if adhered to, will secure the Electors of this State by a 
vast mojority. I do not mean to express a doubt that tlie result would be favorable 
in any event, but that it will in such a state of things be triumphant. By an arrival 
yesterday from Havre, bringing news to the ISth April from that [)lace, there is much 
reason to fear that there has been another revolution in Paris. A private letter, 
from a respectable source, as I understand, received on the morning of the 18th, 
stated the fact. From the character of the present: ministry it is much to be feared 
that such an attempt will produce most dreadful consequences. If the ministry are 
successful, absolutism will have achieved a victory. If the people drive their masters 
out of Paris, there will be civil war, and consequently France will be a party to the 
Holy Alliance. Removed from the storm, we calmly follow its course and anticipate 
its results wliich, however, as a Nation or as lovers of liberty, must be deeply interest- 
ing to us. If ignorance and despotism should temporarily prevail, permanently they 
cannot against knowledge and freedom; they \\o\\\(i partition Yvawcq and govern 
all Europe with an iron grasp and a lash of scorpions. In that event, our liberal 
institutions and rapid improvements would be a source of jealousy and fear to them. 
This, however, is an anticipation too remote and calamitous to be indulged. En- 
slaved Europe is destined shortly to be free. 

" A meeting is called for to-morrow evening in behalf of the Poles. From the 
names of the persons who subscribe the call (Mr. Pikers excepted), they are all of 
the opposition, and men of schemes and contrivances. Their power of doing good 
is so small that I apprehend they mean mischief. I will attend the meeting purposely 
to watch their movements, and will give you an account of it if anything occurs 
deserving of remembrance. I had the pleasure to see your adopted son yesterday 
who, I am happy to perceive, appears to be in fine health. With sincere regard, 

" Your devoted friend, &c." 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 221 

Pbesident Andrew Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, May 22, 1831. 

"MyDeae Sir: I have this moment received your kind letter of the 18th, 
inclosing Mr. Elves' of the 24th of March last, which, having perused with attention, 
I now return as you have requested. We have no information here that would 
authorize the conclusion that the sum of five millions of dollars cannot he obtained 
from France on our claims, unless we would found our belief upon the report of a 
majority of the French commissioners, to whom it appears this matter was referred, 
who reduce the amount to three millions. This, I would suppose, was intended by 
them as a basis upon which their first bid was intended to be made as a gross sum, 
but intending to come up to the amount of the ni'mov'ity, Jive millions. This last 
sum would, as I believe, cover all our just claims. I am certain six millions would. 
Wisdom and good policy would suggest the jjropriety of reducing the consent of the 
claimants to the lowest sum possible ; whilst we know Mr. Rives will push tliern as 
high as there are any hopes of success. Five or six millions ought to be accepted 
by Mr. Eives, if ofiered, under existing circumstances. The lively interest you have 
always taken in my prosperity and happiness since our first acquaintance, deserves, 
as it receives, my warmest gratitude and thanks. I have had many evidences of 
your kind feelings, and have duly appreciated them. I will always place a true value 
on your friendship. It is gratifying to learn that the reorganization of my cabinet 
has met with the full approbation of my friends. The moment Mr. Van liuren and 
Major Eaton tendered their resignations, there was but one proper course for me to 
adopt : that was to renew my cabinet proper. I parted w^ith those two friends with 
much regret ; but I am sure a grateful country will never lose sight of such disin- 
terestedness. And what a contrast! Calhoun using all low intrigue to obtain ofiice, 
whilst those two true republicans are voluntarily resigning office for the quiet and 
repose of the country. With a tender of my kind salutations to you and your 
amiable family, I am, respectfully your friend, &c." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

" May 23, 1831. 

" My Deae Sir : In going over my papers for destroying such as are no longer 
useful, I find the inclosed which may be so to you. File it away with your Tomp- 
kins correspondence. I deliver over to-morrow, and will be with you in about ten 
days, when we shall have an old-fashioned talk. 

" Very truly yours, &c. 

" P. S. — The President will write yon to-day or to-morrow upon the subject of 
the letter from Mr. Elves which you enclosed to him." 

James A. Hamilton to General Van Suolten. 

"New York, May 28, 1831. 

"My Dear General: I had the pleasure yesterday to receive your letter of 

the 23d ultimo, with a box of wine, for which I return you my sincere thanks. Mr. 

Van Buren will be here in a day or two, when he will receive those good things 

destined for him, and as he may sail in the course of the next month for England, 



222 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

he will probably bave an opportunify to thank you in person in London, and to give 
you an opportunity to judge whether the wine is improved or not by a double 
voyage. I did not see your friend, Judge Frederickson, whicli I much regret, not 
only because I was thus deprived of the pleasnre of enjoying the society of a very 
agreeable person as Mr. Hone informs nie he is, but as I lost an opportunity to give 
that attention Avhich your recommendation will always command to one of our 
countrymen or any other person. He had gone to Philadelphia when I called 
upon him, and I was absent from the city when he returned. Do me the favor to 
make this explanation to him for me when you see him. 

"Amid the events of burning interest which will arrest your attention in Europe 
at this moment, these important to ns personally, but unconseqnential to others, 
which have recently occurred here, cannot interest you. I will therefore only say 
that tl:e change of Cabinet must be accounted for by the reasons that are given in 
the letters of the parties. You well know that the scandal in relation to Mrs. Eaton 
had produced some discord before you arrived here. That, however, was not the 
leading motive of the opposition in Congress and elsewhere on the part of Mr. 
Calhoun and his friends. It was only laid hold of as an ostensible cause of differ- 
ence. The real one was the fear of Mr. Van Buren's power and influence with the 
President and his Cabinet in the Government. Mr. Calhoun well knew that, if that 
power continued undiminished, Mr. Van Buren would be his most formidable com- 
petitor, lie therefore determined to strike at home, careless whether he should 
jiit the President or not. The consequence of that course of Mr. Calhoun was, that 
he distracted the Administration party in both Houses so much as to make it pow- 
erless. He was not prepared for the coup dJ'itat which followed, and which, from 
present appearances, has frustrated hira. Van Buren has the merit with Jackson's 
friends of having made a great sacrifice to the success of the administration. They 
ai-e, therefore, bound to him by indissoluble ties. He has removed from Calhoun all 
pretence of a continued opposition. He is hailed as a most disinterested patriot by his 
party, and he goes probably to England, removed from the fight for three or four 
years, with the advantage of having administered the affairs of his department in a 
successful manner for two years. These coups are always problematical, but in this 
case he has strong grounds to hope for a successful result. More anon. This letter 
will be conveyed to you by my most worthy friend, Mr. Vaughan, who returns to 
his country with the esteem of all Americans who have known him. Be so good as 
to write to me fully upon the state of Europe, and remember me always as your 
most affectionate friend, &c." 

THE STOLEN JEWELS. 

The Jewels of Heu Koyal Highness, the Piuncess of Okaxge, Stolen 

BY Constant Polari. 
Prom the testimony taken during the various proceedings instituted in the 
District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, it 
was proved that Constant Polari and Susanna Blanche (she was an unmarried 
woman but was represented by the said Polari as his wife) arrived at the port 
of New York on the 15th day of June, 1831, in the ship Francis I., from 
Havre. Polari brought with him concealed about his person, and about the 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 223 

person of his pretended wife, a large number of jewels of very great value, 
probably not less than 50,000 dollarr-. The said jewels M'ere smuggled from 
the ship in a hollow walking stick, and in a staiF in the similitude of an umbrella 
case, large enough to hold an umbrella. Polari and his assumed wife went to a 
house known as 566 Pearl street, in the city of New York, to board ; and John 
Rouraage, being a Frenchman, a detective then boarding in the same house, by 
his delicate and assiduous attentions to Susanna, soon learned that Polari had 
brought jewels from France, and had smuggled them into the port. He did 
more, as the sequel will prove. He touched Susanna's heart, and as she was 
deprived of the Italian, she took the Frenchman as her husband. By means 
of a search warrant, the jewels were found in that house and seized as for- 
feited. On the 28th day of July, 1831, the Collector (Swartwout), called 
upon the District Attorney at his house, he being confined to his bed by illness, 
related all the circumstances of the seizure, and urged the attorney to take 
measures without delay to arrest Polari, and institute the necessary proceed- 
ings to condemn the jewels as forfeited to the United States, which was done 
on the 31st of July, 1831. The effect of the forfeiture of smuggled goods 
then was, that one half of the proceeds of the sale, after the payment of the 
taxed costs, was to go to the United States, and the other half to the Collector 
and two other officers of the Customs in equal parts. The smuggled goods 
were libelled, and Constant Polari was arrested for §50,000, and for want of 
bail was sent to prison, where he remained over a year. 

On the 27th of November, 1829, the Collector had received iKstructions 
from the Secretary of the Treasury, to take measures to recover the jewels 
which had been stolen from the palace of the Prince of Orange, at Brussels, on 
the nights of the 25th and 26th of September, 1829, and for the recovery of 
which a reward had been offered by proclamation, published in the newspapers of 
the City of New York, of $10,000. The District Attorney became convinced 
that these jewels and those smuggled by Polari were the same, and intimated 
his belief to the Collector, but that officer gave an impatient reply and an em- 
phatic denial. He afterward wrote a note to the Attorney to know why the 
proceedings for the condemnation were not prosecuted with effect. The Attor- 
ney, in a private letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, dated January 28th, 
1832, said : 

" I have been singularly unfortunate in this most laborious and vexatious busi- 
ness." (The Attorney received and wrote, in all, ninety-sis letters in relation to the 
proceedings connected with the jewels, which are now before him.) " As soon as 
I was satisfied that the jewels were the property of the Princess of Orange and 
were stolen from her (to which latter point there is abundant evidence in the con- 
fessions of Polari), I determined that the honor of the country would be stained if 
they were condemned and sold ; and in the course I have taken I have been inllu- 
enced alone by a desire to avoid such a disaster. In all which, I am quite sure, I 
have been sustained not only by every member of the Executive Government but 
by every man at all acquainted with the subject who is not influenced by interested 



224 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

considerations. I have constantly urged the course which I believe you thought 
best, and I am persuaded that Ilujgens did not adopt it because he indulged un- 
worthy suspicions of you ; and which, at times, I believe were entertained even as 
to the fairness of my own intentions. Although I have been thus offended, and al- 
though I have been harrassed more than you can conceive by the importunities of 
the Minister and his son, and although my motives have been assailed in private and 
in public by the officers of the Customs, their associates and dependants" (Xoah 
published an otiensive article), " I have persevered in the course which duty pre- 
scribed. My advice as to the cost of the Court, and the duties (which was that the 
United States should pay the former), amounting to $69.32, taxed costs, and 
should remit the duties, was influenced by a wish that no fact should exist to which 
any person could refer in order to sustain the impressions that our Government 
had been wanting in high and generous feelings in this matter. I believed that 
this property came within that class of cases, when goods are brought into the 
United States by superior force or inevitable accident. They are, therefore, not 
liable to duties." 

Another letter to Mr. McLane, October 8tb, 1831 : 

" When the copy of your letter was delivered to me, the Collector asked me why 
the proceedings to condemn the property did not progress ; I replied that the Secre- 
tary of State had directed me to stay the proceedings until the pleasure of the Presi- 
dent was known, and that, in obedience to those instructions, I had done so. The 
Collector expressed the opinion that it was a subject whully under your direction, 
and that uni-estrained by you I ought to proceed. I therefore now take the liberty 
to ask instructions from yon on the subject." 

By a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, dated October 6th, 1831, 
I was, by order of the President, directed to appear for the Prince of Orange 
as owner and claimant, and I was directed thus : " You will use the same zeal 
and diligence in sustainins; before the Court this claim, as if it were a claim of 
the United States." In obedience to this order, I prepared and presented to 
the Court a petition in the name and on behalf of the Prince of Orange, and 
as bis counsel and attorney served a copy and notice of same on the Collector, 
■who appeared by Mr. HoflFman as his attorney, to open the claim, and upon evi- 
dence and argument sustain that claim, I was ordered by the Secretary of State 
to take the evidence which Huygens, the Minister of the King of the Nether- 
lands, should submit to me to show that the jewels seized were those stolen from 
the palace of the Prince, and to report the same to the President with my opin- 
ion. I did so ; made my report and expressed my opinion that the evidence was 
conclusive to show that these jewels were those which had belonged to the 
Princess of Orange, and that they ought to be restored to her. The draft of 
my Report, now before me, was sent to the Department, and presented to the 
President, who directed the Secretary of State to address a letter to the 
Charge d' Affaires of the King of the Netherlands, dated 13th January, 1832, 
in wliich he says : 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 225 

" Departmext of State, ) 

""Washington, January 13, 1832. \ 

Edward Livingstox, Secretary of State, To Count Lovendale, Charge d'Affaires 
of His Majesty the King of the Netherlands. 

" Sib : I am dh-ected by the President to inform you that, after a full considera- 
tion of the application made for his interposition in the case of the jewels seized by 
the officers of the Customs at ISTew York, and libelled as forfeited to the United 
States, he has determined either to direct a nolle prosequi to be entered in tlie case 
of the libel, or to grant a pardon so far as respects the forfeiture of the jewels, as the 
one or the other course shall be preferred by you, under the advice of your counsel, 
and in the latter case that he will direct the Attorney of the United States to apply 
for an order to deliver the articles to you, and to support such motion on your be- 
half. As soon as you shall signify to lue which of the two modes of proceeding you 
shall prefer, I am directed to send on the necessary documents to carry your wishes 
into effect. The President desires me to assure you that he regrets the delay that 
has taken place, which has arisen from a necessary caution not to interfere in the 
decision of a judiciary, and he hopes that in the determination to which he has now 
come, you will see a new evidence of the desire he has always felt to show his re- 
spect for the King your Sovereign, and so to exercise all his constitutional powers 
as to preserve the most friendly relations with your country. 

"Accept Sir, I pray you, the assurances of my high consideration." 

On the 31sfc of January, 1832, the District Attorney of the United States 
addressed a letter to Secretary of State, informing him that the duties upon the 
jewels having been secured to be paid, and the costs in both suits (one by the 
United States, the other by the Prince of Orange), as taxed $69.32 by the Dis- 
trict Judge, having been paid, a nolle prosequi was upon motion, in open court, 
this day entered in both the libels against the jewels, the said jewels having 
been ordered by the court to be delivered to the claimant. They are now in 
possession of Le Chevalier Huygens, late minister, who will take them with him 
that they may be restored to her Royal Highness the Princess of Orange. On 
the same day, the Chevalier Huygens addressed to the District Attorney of 
the United States a letter as follows : 

" The completion of this measure having been effectuated, I seize this opportunity 
to offer you my sincere thanks for the services you have rendered in bringing this 
tedions case to an end, and I congratulate you that you have completed the mea- 
sure by which both governments liave been liberated from the perplexities which so 
long prevented us to come to a favorable result. 

"Accept, Sir, the renewed assurances of my most sincere esteem." 

A large portion of the stolen jewels having been buried by Polari and Su- 
sanna Blanche, about three miles out of Brooklyn, she and Koumage, during 
the imprisonment of Polari, went to the spot, took up the jewels, and on or 
about the 24th of August, 1831, under the name of John Eoberts and wife, 
15 



226 KEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

sailed from Philadelphia iu the ship Monougahela for Liverpool. Mr. Huygens 
hearing of their departure, dispatched a pilot boat from New York with a de- 
tective on board for the port of Liverpool, where she arrived before the ship, 
and where Roberts and wife were arrested, and the jewels in their possession 
seized. We learned afterward that the settings of the jewels having been re- 
moved, they were buried in a wood in the suburbs of the city. Polari, during 
his imprisonment prepared a petition in French, well written, which was addressed 
to the President, and by him referred to the District Attorney for his report 
on the facts. The poor devil was released from imprisonment, and taken by 
the son of the minister Huygeus on board a vessel, and sent to Amsterdam. 
What became of him I know not. Young Huygens having some difficulty iu 
settling his accounts with his government, his father asked J. A. Hamilton to 
address a letter to him to state with how much assiduity and skill the young man 
attended to the business of the jewels, and particularly, after the departure of 
his father, in sending Polari to the Netherlands. 

It has sometimes occurred to me as singular that the services rendered by 
the writer as District Attorney of the United States to the Princess of Orange, 
in rescuing her jewels (said to be worth a million of dollars) from forfeiture, 
has never been recognized in any manner whatever. The only compensation 
he ever received was the taxed costs, $69.32, from the United States for his 
great labor and important services. 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washingtox, July 23, 1831. 

"My Dear Sir: Your letter of the 17th has been some days received, but 
really, I have not had time to ve]Aj to it. I am fearful it will not be in my power 
to meet Mr. Van Buren in New York before he departs for England. Nothing 
would afford me more pleasure than to meet him there ; but the Nullifiers have com- 
menced operations in Charleston. The Attorney for the District has resigned rather 
than commeuce suits on revenue bonds ; and I am determined to meet the crisis 
with deliberation and energy, I will have testimony that ^il\ show who are the 
ringleaders in this wicked plot, if ringleaders there be. 

" I hope Mr. McLane will be with you when this reaches you. If I cannot go on 
to meet Mr. Van Buren before he sails, I will be much gratified to see you here at the 
time you have said, as we have been disappointed in your last promised visit; come 
on with Mr, McLane, and say to him I am very anxious to see him here in possession 
of the Treasury Department. 

" Respectfully your friend.'' 

Mautin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

"August 1, 1881. 
" My Dear Sir : Smith tells me you were kind enough to wish to be informed of 
my movements. They have been, and still continue to be, so much involved in un- 
certainty as to put it out of my power to speak with anything like precision. The 



REMINISCENCES OP JAMES A. HAMILTON. 227 

moment McLane arrives I can lay my course and not before. I leave here to-day 
for Albany, and if I do not bear anytbing there to change my course, I sliall go to 
Saratoga and veait events. The water will be useful to me preparatory to my voy- 
age, and I shall be there as much if not more in the line of information as at this 
place. I wrote to the President that, if it should be deemed more advisable, it would 
be quite agreeable to me to go in one of the packets. He wrote me back that it was 
his wish that I should go in the Potomac, and that he had ordered her to be at New 
York on the 1st of August, where I see she has just arrived. After McLane comes, 
I shall have to follow him. If you should be at New York when he arrives, could 
you not prevail upon him to remain until I can be sent for, which would take but a 
short time? This would be a great accommodation to me, and I would be there by 
the time he could get his baggage out, &c. I send this by mail, fearing that you may 
not be at Catskill. Write me whatever occurs to you, directed to Albany, and believe 
me to be, 

" Very truly yours, &c." 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" September 3, 1831. 

"My Dear Sir: Your kind letter of the 1st instant is this moment received, for 
which I sincerely thank you. Truth is mighty, and being of the essence of Divinity, 
must always prevail. Therefore, the fate of the Judases Ingham, Boraush, and Ber- 
rican I believed would be a consignment to the utter contempt of all honorable men. 
This has happened to them. 

"I have no fear of the ratification of the treaty by the Chambers of France; I 
have the pledge of the King personally conveyed, and our friend General La Fayette, 
who is now in the opposition, will use all his influence to have the appropriation 
made for its fulfilment; on his union on this subjec* with the king I rest my opin- 
ion, I have this moment received the dispatches accompanying the Treaty, and my 
Cabinet is about to convene for the purpose of bestowing upon it a reading ; there- 
fore, I must close this hasty note with a tender of my best wishes for your health 
and happiness. Hoping soon to see you in "Washington, 

"I am respectfully, your friend, Andrew Jackson." 

James A. Hamilton to Hon. Louis McLane, Sec'y of the Treas'y, 

"New York, September 16, 1831. 
" Dear Sir: The information I now give you I do not intend as a complaint, and 
I must request you not to use it as the ground of admonition or rebuke. Pvecent 
events connected with the seizure of the jewels, and your recent appointment to 
office afibrd you a fair opportunity to give instructions on the subject without seem- 
ing to imply censure. The Collector, from kindness of disposition, from tnisappre- 
hension of his duty, and the intention of the Legislature in enacting penal laws, has 
too frequently exercised the right of determining when forfeitures and penalties 
might be abandoned, both before and after prosecution. At a very early day I 
insisted that he had no such power; that the law required him in all cases to seize 
and prosecute with efiect where a forfeiture or penalty has been incurred (indeed, 
so much so that, since the Act of April, 1818, the power conferred on the Collector 
by the Proviso to the 67th Section of the Collection laws of 1799 to decide upon the 



228 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

intention Las been taken from him), and that the right of remission or mitigation 
was vested in you or the President alone. He, however, thinks differently, and 
assumes that right. In several cases, after informations have been filed in cases like 
that which was the subject of my letter to you of yesterday, he directed the prose- 
cutions to be discontinued. In one case of smuggling (where the goods were con- 
demned), he directed me absolutely, after I remonstrated, to discharge the offender 
from imprisonment ; and in otber cases, where articles of no great value are seized 
as smuggled, he has ordered them to the public store, and they have been sold with- 
out condemnation ; and in two cases of whichi was informed yesterday, — one, where 
one case and two bales of foreign goods were found on board a coasting vessel and 
sent to the public store, and another, where several articles of ready-made clothing 
were brought out for a tailor by the steward of one of the Liverpool vessels, no pro- 
ceedings having taken place. This last, of bringing out ready-made clothes, has 
been a subject of serious complaint by the tailors. It is due to them that, wherever 
there is detection, an example should be made. The law prescribing the duty of the 
Collector is explicit, and ought therefore to be obeyed ; but, above all, the course 
that is now pursued ought not to be tolerated because it may lead to the worst 
practices. In the very cause which I recently tried, it was proved and urged to the 
jury, as a ground of acquittal, that goods in like predicament with those on trial 
had, since the seizure in that case, been passed by the Collector after they were ap- 
praised, and found to be erroneously charged. I again repeat that I do not make these 
statements as accusatory, for I verily believe that these incorrect proceedings result, 
in a great measure, from kindness of disposition and misapprehension of the law. I 
was informed of the last two cases, noticed by the officer who made the seizures, 
who inquired as to what had been done, and I had to tell him that no prosecutions 
had been instituted. The effect on the officer will probably be to suppose that, if 
ihe Collector does not notice such violations of the laws, he need not do so. 

" Your friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

"New York, September 18, 1831. 
"I have the pleasure, my dear sir, to inclose an eztra, containing the news re- 
'ceived yesterday after the mail closed, bringing accounts from London down to the 
lOtli ultimo. War has commenced between the Dutch and Belgians, the latter aided 
by France and the former probably by Russia. There are facts connected with this 
•subject, which are not generally known, tending to prove that Eussia and Prussia 
■sustain Holland. "When the Conference (the Eepresentatives of the five Powers) 
-proposed the eighteen articles of final separation between Belgium and Holland, 
-Eussia and Prussia reserved their assent until Holland should accede to them. They 
were, therefore, not bound by them. On the 21st July, Holland published a sort of 
'manifesto, in which she gives her reasons for not acceding to these eighteen articles, 
endeavoring to show that they violated the previous protocol (the 20th) which set- 
tled the terms of separation, and which was, if I recollect right, dated on the 21st 
July last, and declares that the person who has assumed the throne of Belgium is 
7ier enemy. When I saw this manifesto, I had no longer a doubt of war ; and I am 
now satisfied that Prussia and Eussia when they gave their conditional assent to the 
eighteen articles (which articles, by the way, were adopted to induce the Belgians 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 229 

to choose Leopold), they well knew that Holland would not accede, and intended by 
that reservation to be saved from-the charge of a violation of good faith. 

" I fear the Eeform Bill is kept in the House of Commons, because there is a ma- 
jority in the Lords against it, and I believe it will not be sent up until that majority 
shall be changed to effect this. Exertions are making of every kind. This war will 
afford j'ou an opportunity in your message to give notice of what you shall consider 
the true policy of our country, a strict and honorable neutrality, and also to declare 
that we will protect our rights as neutrals. I think, should you take this course, 
that it would be useful to recommend to Congress to take measures to augment our 
naval force in order to sustain the position thus assumed. The eff'ect of such a 
recommendation, whether measures are taken to that end or not, will be to induce 
foreign powers to believe we are in earnest when we say we will not suffer our 
rights as neutrals to be disregarded. At the same time, it would be well to recom- 
mend a revision of those laws that have been passed to prohibit our citizens from 
engaging on either part, and to prevent the belligerents from augmenting their forces 
in our ports. These suggestions are made upon the presumption that the war is a 
general one, and are thrown out as they occur. With the truest attachment, 

" Your friend, &c." 

Martin Van Bcren to James A. Hamilton. 

"London, September 22, 1831. 

My Dear Friend: The dispatches go off in an hour or two, and I have only 
time to say to you that I had my audience yesterday, and was received to my entire 
satisfaction. If I can get settled, which is not very clear, for you can have no con- 
ception of the difficulty which is found here in suiting yourself with a house, whea 
you are obliged to consult economy and location, I will return to this subject again. 
The lieform Bill passed last night by a majority of 109. Great apprehensions are 
entertained here about the state of Paris, and I fear not without good cause. Believe 
me to be, Very truly yours, &c." 

Martin Van Burkn to James A. Hamilton. 

" London, October 14, 1831. 

'"My Dear Sir: I received yours of the 23d September this morning, and thank 
you fur it. I wrote you twice : once from here and once from Southampton. I can 
Avell conceive of your vexation arising from the characters of those with whom you 
have to act; but remember one thing — there is no public situation without its pains 
and penalties. "We feel the present and hope for better under different circumstances, 
but are generally disappointed. The only way, therefore, is to learn to disregard 
them. Judging from what I yet know, I should say that the one I now have is de- 
cidedly the most agreeable that I have ever had ; but we shall see how it turns out. 
Money — money — is the thing. I have a splendid and most agreeable house in the 
most delightful situation, and in one respect different from all my predecessors, 
nearer to the centre of business and fashion, thus affording a convenience to my 
countrymen, and giving John an opportunity to stretch his long legs in Regent street 
without previous fatigue, which he could not have done if I lived in the far west, as 
Mr. King did both times, and others after him. I pay £500 sterling for my house, 



230 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

from wliicli the taxes, say £50, are to be deducted, and it is considered very clieap, 
which was owing to particular circuinstauces. I pay about £310 for my carriage, 
and about $2600 for my servants iuchiding their board in the house, which I pay 
for so mucli a week, and thus have nothing to do with providing for them. I beg 
pardon for troubling you with these small matters, but I do so because I know you 
take some interest in them. If John does not remain long I shall be able to keep 
some of my property over, but how much is doubtful. We go, however, upon no- 
tions of strict economy. 

" I could not desire to be treated with more kindness and attention by the offi- 
cers of the Governinent, from the highest to the lowest, than I am. The King and 
Queen are evidently good people, and in all that matter I am at my ease. I have had 
some conversation with Prince Talleyrand through Mr. Vail, for he does not speak 
English. He appears disposed to be very kind. I am to dine with him to-day. He 
inquired of Mr. Vail about your mother, and said that your father was the greatest 
man that he found in America and was not surj^assed by any man in Europe, or words 
to tliat efibct. The papers will give you so full an account of the course of things 
here in regard to the Eeform Bill that it would be superfluous for me to speculate 
upon tlie subject. The Bill, or a measure of nearly the same efficiency, must pass 
and will pass, or they will have tremendous times. The comparative order which 
has bceu j'reserved is the strongest proof that could be given of the determination 
of the peoi)le. As long as the King and Ministry remain true to the principles upon 
which they now stand, civil commotion will of necessity be avoided. If they yield, 
or lose the confidence of the jjeople, the convulsion will be great and effectual. The 
church must sutler in its temporal interests in any event. Tlie vote of the Bishops 
has turned the public indignation against them — a channel which it was predisposed 
to follow. The Bishops have, I think, lost the only opportunity they will ever have 
to ward off the blows which have for a long time been imposing upon their privi- 
leges ; and I do not believe there will be one man the less in heaven if they are re- 
stricted to less on earth. You ask me about the views of the King of Holland. It 
is difficult to say Avhat they are. My own impression is, that he wishes war with 
Belgium — would fight avcH and be glad of the opportunity, if Paissia, Austria, and 
Prussia would let lam — that so long as they are not disposed for a general war he 
must he quiet ; but that his strong desire to revenge himself of the rebellious Belgians 
contributes greatly to the difficulties of arranging the subject. At this time I think, 
without doubt, that all the great powers honestly desire peace, and that, therefore, 
notwithstanding tlie militury preparations in Belgium and the short and re-pected 
suspension of the armistice, peace will be preserved. Loi'd Palmerston told me 
Wednesday that he thought they would succeed in keeping peace. The Belgian 
Minister told me the same thing, but the Dutch Special Minister Baron Von * * * 
did not speak so strongly. It must, however, be so, unless the Emperor Nicholas 
and Austria change their minds. * * * Yours, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to a Friend. 

" Pi'.esident's House, Washington, Oct. 21, 1831. 
"I arrived here yesterday at about 2 o'clock, and was received by the President 
with the same cordiality, and treated with the same confidence which has always 
heretofore characterized our intercourse. The best proof I can afford you of this is: 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 231 

He told me this morning I must give him an opportunity to show me such parts of 
his message as he had written. I thanl^ed him for this flattering marls of confidence 
and promised to be with him during the mornimg. All things here are going on 
very quietly and very well, although the Attorney General, Secretary of War, and 
Postmaster General are absent. McLane is absent only for a few days." 

President Jackson xo James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, November 12, 1831. 

" My Dear Sie : Yours of the 8th instant was received yesterday, with two from 
Mr. Van Buren inclosed, which I liave read with much pleasure and herewith re- 
turn to you. 

" I sincerely thank you for the information given of the intended views and plans 
of the NuUifiers in South Carolina. That there is a party in that State under a 
certain influence that would dissolve the Union rather than not eflfect their ambitious 
views, I have no doubt ; but that that influence can obtain a majority in South Caro- 
lina to eff"eet this wicked purpose I cannot permit myself for one moment to believe, 
though should the crisis arise you will find my energies equal thereto, and that tlie 
Union will he preserved. 

The valuable suggestion you have made in your letter on this subject was hap- 
pily incorporated in the project of a message prepared before the receipt of your 
letter, and from which I am hapjjy that we think so much alike upon this subject. 
Any suggestions you may please to make on this or any other interesting point or 
subject will be tliankfully received. 

" It would be too gratifying to the combination of the South to express in the 
message any fear or alarm. 

"If I judge right of the American people I think the expose I will make of 
the prosperity of the Nation and our capability, with the aid of Congress, to pay 
the National debt on the 3d March, 1833, will destroy the Nullifiers by not leaving a 
single stone for them to stand on ; and Congress will find a source of contemplation 
and action by being called upon to reduce the tarifi" to the wants of the Government 
after the debt is paid, to go into effect and operation on the 4th March, 1833. I 
must close for, indeed, I am so surrounded with business that I have no time to write 
letters. When I get my message arranged I will, if I have time to have it copied, 
send you its outlines. In the mean time, I pray you to believe that with my most 
affectionate regards, I am your friend." 

James A. Hamilton to Hon. Louis McLane. 

" New Yoek, November 20, 1831. 
"Dear Sir: The inclosed letter (a copy Avill be sent to the Collector) is the 
commencement of a correspondence which I fear will not be quite agreeable to you ; 
and yet I cannot withhold it, and longer submit to the course the Collector has 
thouglit proper to pursue toward me. I am perfectly willing, in order to avoid a 
state of things injurious to the public interests here, and which must be unpleasant 
to the President, to abandon my office, but so long as I hold it I am determined to 
defend my rights. I am induced, from the expressions of dissatisfaction toward 
me used by the Collector (they have come to my ears from various quarters), to 



232 REMINISCENCES OP JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

believe that he has taken the course now complained of as a means of avenging 
himself because I have not pressed the condemnation of the jewels. In this, although 
he may think his interests have been jeopardized, he can find no just cause of 
dissatisfoction, nor any reason to believe that I was actuated by anything but a due 
regard to my duty. AVhen it was found that the Secretary of State had sanctioned 
the application to the governor, I told the Collector that I believed it was the wish of 
the Government that Polari should be given up and that the jewels should not be 
condemned (he and 1 both entertaining the belief that the jewels were the property 
of the Princess of Orange), and advised him to write a letter to Mr. Livingston to 
ascertain how that was ; declaring at the same time that, if such was the wish of the 
President, it was our duty to acquiesce, and that I would be governed by it. He 
agreed with me, as I supposed, in these views ; requested me to write the letter, and 
said he would send it by a special messenger, which was done ; Mr. Livingstson's 
answer confirmed my belief, and I acted accordingly. This explanation is made to 
you in a private letter, not because I wish it to be withheld from the Collector or 
the President, but because I do not think it proper for the files of the Department. 

" With great respect, your friend, &c." 

Louis McLane to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washtngtox, November 23, 1831. 

'• Dear Sir : I received yesterday your letters, both public and private, of the 20ih 
instant, and an official answer was immediately returned. I would have accompanied 
it with a private note but for the pressure of my official duties. I hope your suspicion 
of tlie ground of the Collector's supposed resentment will prove to be unfonnded. 
He has been uniformly advised in all the communications from this Department that 
it was not the disposition of the Government rigorously to enforce the alleged for- 
feiture of the jewels, but to facilitate their restoration to the riglitful owner in any 
manner consistent with the Constitution and the laws. The President has at no 
time, however, to my knowledge, expressed or authorized any official opinion of the 
authority or expediency of remanding Polari for trial in a foreign country, except 
so far as to say that the Executive of the United States had no authority to do so. 
All this, however, is for yourself alone. It ought not and cannot belong to the 
present state of the business. The accusations j^repared by you against the Col- 
lector require explanation, and I do not doubt that you would not wish the final 
action of the Department without such ex[ilanation, and without affording the latter 
the fullest opportunity for investigation. Indeed, he has asked for it. I have 
thought it best, however, as justice due to the Collector, first to call for his own 
explanation. When this shall be received, yon will be made acquainted with it, 
and such proceedings will be afterwards taken a^ the case may be found to require. 
I have been almost daily intending to write to you respecting the suggestions con- 
tained in your private letter of the 7th instant. I am satisfied of the propriety- of 
making the inquiry you recommend, and it may possibly be well to do so in the 
manner suggested by you, into the situation of the debtors at the Custom House, 
provided I could be enabled to select a proper person. But I have no knowledge 
of such a one, and the subject is of too much delicacy to admit of much inquiry. 
Can you point out a person in all respects qualified ? Meantime, believe me to be, 

" Your obedient servant, &c." 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 233 

James A. Hamilton to tue Peesident. 

" New Yoek, November 24, 1831. 

"Dear Sie : I had the pleasure to-day to receive your letter of the 21st inst., 
referring to passages of Mr. Rhinds to me. 

" When I inclosed the letter to yon, I did not think it worth uiy wliile to comment 
upon this further evidence of the improper spirit he had so frequently manifested 
during my interviews with him in relation to the horses, and I tlierefore did not 
refer particularly to this part of his letter. 

"I know not what he refers to when he speaks of facts that he had anxiously 
studied to conceal from the public ; when there were no facts within my knowledge 
connected with his service under the Administration which required concealment, 
except his shufHing attempts to retain the horses as his private property after he 
had in an official letter, addressed to the Secretary of State, declared that he was 
ready to release to the Government all his title and interest in them. 

" I believe this was intended as a threat to induce the administration to settle 
his claim without delay — the expedient of a weak and vulgar mind. 
" I have the honor to be, with great respect, 

" Your obedient servant." 

James A. Hamilton to the President of the United States. 

"November 25, 1831. 
"Dear Sir: The inclosed letter, in reply to yours of the 21st instant^ is Avritten 
in such form as to be made public if it should be necessary. From my intercourse 
with Mr. R. in relation to the horses, I very soon found out that lie did not observe 
a very strict regard for the truth, and that it was necessary to be extremely guarded 
with him. He made various statements of Avhat you and Mr. Y.'in Buren had 
promised him, the particulars of which I do not now recollect, liut which I was 
satisfied, from other parts of his statements, his letters, and their relation to other 
facts within my knowledge, could not be true. If you will send me a copy of 
his letter I will write to him referring to that part of his letter and endeavor to as- 
certain what he has relation to as requiring to be concealed. 

" With sincere regard, your friend and servant." 

James A. Hamilton to Charles Khind, at Constantinople. 

"New York, December 7, 1831. 

"Dear Sir: Your letter of September last was received in due course of mail. 

" Subsequent dates from Commissioners induce the belief that the treaty has been 
ratified, and that the vessel you sailed in has been sold ; I hope both events will 
lead to your individual and permanent advantage. 

" The principal subject of your letter, always disagreeable to me, is not rendered 
less so by the manner you now treat it. You write, ' pardon me for saying that I 
think this ' (the refusal by the Government to pay the balance arising from the ex- 
penses of the Arabian horses beyond what they produced), ' is at least ungenerous ; 
and I do hope that the President will not compel me to make such an appeal' (to 
Congress for relief), ' inasmuch as it would compel me to disclose facts irhkh you 
Tcnow it has been my anxious wish to conceal from the puhlic.'' What the facts are to 



234 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

which you refer as within my knowledge, I cannot conceive ; and until this part of 
your letter and that also wliich refers to tlie Presidenfs pledge are explained, so 
far from the exercise of any good offices (if I have power to exercise any) on my 
part to effect a settlement t)f yonr claim, I must frankly say to you that I sh:ill be 
compelled, if I do any thing pending these tljreats, to urge the Government not to 
adjust tliis claim. 

" I hope to have the pleasure ere long to hear from you again on this subject, and 
to find that the irritation under which the letter to which this is a reply was written, 
occasioned, no doubt, by your then recent advices that your claims had not been 
paid, having subsided, you are enabled to look at all the events connected with this 
transaction as they truly were— frank, fair, and honorable on the part of the Execu- 
tive Government. 

" I remain, your obedient servant." 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" December 12, 1831. 

"Dear Sib: I am happy to find by your letter of the 8th instant that my message 
suits your views in common with my friends generally in New York. In relation 
to the Bank, I thought it useless to make an unnecessary repetition of the objections 
which were stated in my former messages, as some of my friends are persuaded 
that something more explicit than has been stated would have had a good effect in 
preventing an error into which some have fallen, to wit, that I have changed my 
ground on that subject. A superficial reading of Mr. McLane's report was also cal- 
culated to lead to the same false conclusion. But it is now generally admitted, I 
think, after a considerate examination of Mr. McLane's views, that he does not ex- 
press any opposition to those entertained by myself; although it is obvious that his 
solicitude to obtain a new cliarter so modified as to free tlie institution from the 
objections of the Executive, springs from convictions much more favorable than 
mine of the general character and conduct of the institution. 

" Mr. McLane and myself understand each other, and have not the slightest dis- 
agreement about the principles, which will be a sine qua non in my assent to a bill 
recharteriug the Bank. 

" Believe me to be, most sincerely your friend." 



^D 



Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

"London, December 14, 1831. 

"My Dear Sir: You are right in your impression as to the reluctance with 
which I receive information like that contained in your last, thinking it better to be 
deceived occasionally than to be forever harassed by accounts of the infidelity of 
friends; but the case you refer to constitutes an exception. If feelings of the charac- 
ter you suppose exist in that quarter, it is of vital importance that I should know 
it ; and you have acted in that spirit of friendship which has always characterized 
your conduct in bringing the matter to my notice. I beg, therefore, that you will 
in your next, give me the reasons on which your apprehensions are founded, with, 
as far as you may, the sources from whence your information is derived. I must in 
candor admit that I have at no time placed a special confidence there, and relied 
rather upon the absence of a reasonable motive and uniform kindness on my part for 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A HAMILTON. 235 

my security against infidelity ; and I yet hope tliere is some mistake upon tlie sub- 
ject. The papers inform you so fully as to what is going on here, that it would be 
useless for me to speculate upon political matters. I believe the Editors of the 
Times and Courier are in general about as well informed as any here who are not 
immediate actors in the operation of the government. The Keform Bill will, with- 
out doubt, pass, and tlie King will, if necessary, create the requisite number of new 
Peers. Of this there is, I think, no room for question. The ministry are respecta- 
ble in their own characters, and derive great strength from the false position in 
which their principal opponents have placed themselves by their opposition to re- 
form. I shall not be surprised if, owing to this circumstance, the Whigs keep posses- 
sion of the government for some time to come. Were it not for that consideration 
the course would be different, for it is not to be doubted that a Tory ministry is not 
only more congenial with royalty in general, but greatly preferred, if not by the 
King himself, certainly by the great body of the Royal family, as well as those in 
this counti-y — who from tiiue immemorial have surrounded tlie throne. The best 
disposition exists here toward our country, and I make it my business, as it is my 
duty, to preserve cordial relations with the prominent men on both sides — a branch 
of my duty in which I do not find myself entirely at home — having been all my life 
wholly on one side. 

Tlie elections in New York have resulted most auspiciously and must operate as 
a damper upon the opposition. I am every day more and more confirmed in the 
propriety of the step I have taken, and every thing is w^orking as I expected. See 
the friends of Clay, Cal'.ioun, "Wirt, Adams, and Rush assailing each other with un- 
ceasing acrimony. Th's will grow worse before it is better. If. I had remained, 
they would have been directing all their artillery, as heretofore, against me in utter 
disregard of the public interest. You see an evident leaning in the prominent 
papers here against the President. This grows in part out of the interest wliich is 
felt here by the stockholders in the Bank of the United States, and partly from the 
fact that almost all the papers that are taken here are those of the opposition. A 
discreet and temperate article upon this subject in the Evening Post might be of use, 
setting forth in a calm and lucid manner their ignorance of American politics and 
the injustice of their judging of the character and views of the President by the 
calumnies of his enemies instead of the open and oflScial acts of his administration." 

"William B. Lewis to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, 1st January, 1832. 
" Dear Sir : Your letter of the 28th ult. was received by yesterday's mail, and 
I thank you for what you have done w^ith regard to Noah and the Bank. Your in- 
terview with him I have no doubt w-ill be productive of good. It has given him 
some imeasiness, and convinced him, I have no doubt, of the necessity of caution on 
his part. There is no other way of managing such people. I received a letter from 
him yesterday, denying that he has written any article upon the subject of the Bank, 
and promising to do his best to keep things right. Well, perhaps he will now, and 
if he has any influence over Webb, it is probable that the Courier and Enquirer will 
cease to discuss the Bank question. The article spoken of in my letters of the 23d 
and 24th was calculated, if Blair had replied, to do McLnne irreparable injniy in a 
political point of view ; because it might have brought him and the President in 



236 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

seeming collision, whicli must have proved of serious injury to him, ami would have 
been of no benefit to the administration. The Enquirer praises Mr. McLane and his 
Keport, and yet they are i)ursiiing a course well calculated to destroy him. I have 
acknowle.lged tlie receipt of Major Noah's letter, but my answer is cautious and 
guarded though written in much haste, I beg of him to let the question rest until 
after the next Presidential election, when it can be taken up and acted on as a finan- 
cial, not a political measure. I advise this course, I tell him, not only as his and 
Webb's friend, but as a friend to the Bank itself— that I have always been in favor 
ofa National Bank of some description, and should not object to the rechartering 
this present Bank Avith niodifications. These are substantially my remarks to him 
upon that subject. I have noted your remarks with regard to a project of get- 
ting up a new Bank with less objectionable features than the present, and am deci- 
dedly in favor of carrying it into etTect in case the friends of the present United 
States Bank should press for an extension of its charter this Session. I am of opin- 
ion, though, it would bo best not to take any steps in relation to the matter until we 
know what is intended to be done by the friends of the Bank. If they should deter- 
mine to press the subject, I will advise you of it immediately. 

" Truly thine, &c." 

Louis McLane to James A. Hamilton. 

""Washington, January 3, 1832. 
<'DeakSip. : I received today your letter of the 1st instant, marked 'private.' 
It is necessary that the facts disclosed relative to the suits against the Collector 
should be othcially communicated and without delay. My decision upon your late 
complaint against the Collector has been suspended, in consequence of my illness with 
iufiuenza. Of the contents of the 'lost letter ' lean know nothing as I never re- 
ceived it. But it is certain that no part of my correspondence with Mr. Van Buren 
will authorize the slanderous rumors to which you alkide. In all these cases, how- 
ever, I am very much of the same opinion with Lord Mansfield that, though a pub- 
lic man could with a single dash of his pen refute the s'anders of the newspapers, 
it Avould be unwise in him to do so. Slanders of this sort multiply in proportion as 

they are refuted. 

" I am, dear sir, &c." 

James A. Hamilton, U. S. DIst. Atty. to Hox. Louis McLane, Secretary 

of Treasury. 

"New York, January 10, 1832. 
" Siu: In obedience to your instructions of the 12th ultimo, in order to take up 
to the Supreme Court the question whether the Marshal or the Collector is entitled 
to the possession of the jewels, &c., I prepared the inclosedcase which was sub- 
mitted to Judges Thompson and Betts, and approved by them. This mode of pro- 
ceeding — so prompt so easy, and so little expensive — I regret to say, is frustrated 
by the advice of the counsel employed by the Marshal, whose written opinion, with 
a letter from the Marshal, I herewith inclose to you. I have endeavored in vain to 
point out the fallacy of this opinion, and now the only mode left to me is to institute 
an adversary suit, and to that end the Collector should be instructed not to give the 
property seized by him voluntarily to the Marshal. In order to maintain trespass 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 237 

or trover, it is necessary that the property should be forcibly taken from the posses- 
sion of the plaintiff. 

" "With great respect, your obedient serv't, &c.'' 

Presidext Andrew Jackson to Col. James A. Hamiltox (Private). 

""Washington, January 18, 1832. 
'■My Dear Sir: I have just received your note, (confideatia],) and on its receipt 
adilressed a note to the Postmaster General, directing tbe precaution intimated by 
you. I tliinkitthe only way by which tlie Government will be secure. If it is 
true that your Postmaster has lost the sum of forty thousand dollars, and the di- 
rections I have given that his accounts be kept in the United States Bank, the checks 
on the Post oflSce fund specifying the olject of the check may guard him against 
the temptation to apply the public funds to meet his private engagements. "With my 
respects to your family, I ain very respectfully, your friend, &c." 

President Andrew Jackson to Col, James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, January 27, 1832. 
"My Dear Sir: ***** The factious opposition in the Senate rejected 
the nomination of Mr. "V^anBuren day before yesterday hy the casting vote of ffieVice- 
Preddent. I am told that Miller, of South Carolina, made one of the most disgrace- 
ful speeches that ever were heard in any deliberative body. The injunction of secre- 
cy has been taken off, and lam told we will have the speeches published. The in- 
jury done to our national character by their wanton act, in all Europe, is an account 
that the people have to settle with the Senate who has brought this disgrace and in- 
jury upon us. I mean the factious opposition who have degraded that august 
body, once the admiration of the world, lower than a Spanish inquisition, and 
from report of Miller's speech has changed the debates in the Senate to that Of — I 
cannot find an epithet that will convey a proper idea of its blackguardism and de- 
merit. While I mourn over the degradation that the factious opposition has brought 
the Senate, still I cannot lielp but rejoice at the proper indignant feeling expressed 
by the public at this cruel and unjust act. It is, I am told, universal, except the op- 
position, and nothing is spoken of but redress of Mr. "Van Buren's injured feelings 
and the insult offered to our Government, by placing Van Buren Vice-President by 
acclamation. I suppose thejournals will speak." 

William B. Lewis to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, January 29, 1832. 
" My Dear Sib : You will have seen, my friend, that the Senate has rejected Mr. 
Van Buren's nomination ; but instead of disgracing him as was intended they have 
disgraced themselves and inflicted a wound upon our National character. I do not 
know what course his friends will advise, but it strikes me that, unless there is a 
strong probability, amounting almost to certainty, that he can complete the arrange- 
ment with regard to tlie impressment of our seamen, he ought to come heme imme- 
diately. If in the meantime Congress should not have adjourned, Mr. Dudley 
might resign, which I have no doubt he would cheerfully do, and Mr. Van Buren 



238 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

could take liis place, meet liis slanderers face to face, and assist in modifying the 
tariff wliich would add very much to his popularity in the South. Tiiis would not 
interfere with his running with the General as Vice-President, and I think there is 
hut little douht the Baltimore Convention will take him up and nominate him as a 
candidate. There is mucli excitement here upon the subject of his rgection— every 
person condenms the conduct of the Senate, and I think there is a probability of 
the excitement increasing. I tliink it probable that some pretty strong measures 
will be adopted in relation to this matter. The speeches are in course of publica- 
tion, but they will not be published as delivered. Some of them were not only 
hitter, but contained the most vulgar and blackguard expressions which, I suppose, 
the authors will endeavor to suppress. Governor Forsyth acquitted himself nobly, 
I am told, and deserves a medal of gold, lie made, it is said, the gentleman in the 
chair, as well as the head of the opposition faction, very uneasy for a while. His 
speech will be published. The President's health is quite restored again. 

" Sincerely yours, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Andrew Jackson. (Private.) 

" "New York, January 29, 1832. 
" Dear Sir : I have the honor to inclose a list of causes which have been con- 
tested and tried by me since I have been in office. This statement is made for your 
eye alone, as I do not wish to vaunt what I have done. As far as I can learn Mr. 
Duer tried but two civil causes ; one of which was left for me to argue, and the 
other was compromised or settled. "With great regard, 

" Your obedient servant, &c." 

By the list of causes it appears that Hamilton tried six causes which were 
commenced in 1822 ; and twenty-two commenced by him and decided during 
the two years and eight months he held the office. 

William C. Rives to James A. Hamilton. 

" Paris, January 31, 1832. 

"My Dear Sir: I have been wishing and intending to write to you for a long 
time past, hut a variety of circumstances have concurred to prevent me. I need not 
tell you how highly gratified I was by the warm and cordial language of friendship 
in your letter of September last, on the occasion of the close of my arduous labors 
here. Coming from one so capable (from a thorough knowledge of past negotiations 
on the subject) of appreciating what had been done, the sanction of your judgment 
was a testimony peculiarly valuable ; and the warm spirit of personal friendship 
which animated it, though it might well detract from its impartiality in the eyes of 
others, only rendered it more precious in mine. 

" You will see that we are still in a provisionary state in the old world — noth- 
ing fixed, and minds still unquiet and apprehensive as to the future. The question 
of war is still that which occupies most of the public anxiety. Though I have al- 
ways thought that it must ultimately come to that, as the necessary arbitrament be- 
tween the antagonistic principles of popular sovereignty and divine right which the 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 239 

revolution of July put ' en face ^ yet I think it likely the struggle may be adjourned 
another ye.ir. While England and France act in cordial concert as they now do, of 
which a new proof has just been given in their simultaneous exchange of ratifica- 
tions of the Treaty of 15th November with the King of Belgium, the Northern 
Powers will be too wise to provoke a war. In the present state of things, however, 
everything depends on the continuance in power of the present ministries both here 
and in England. A change of ministry in either country, if not the signal of imme- 
diate war, would, in my opinion, inevitably lead to it at a very early day. This 
consideration gives a double interest to the very critical position in which Lord 
Grey and his colleagues are now placed in England. The spirit and power of the 
aristocracy must be met by corresponding determination and vigor on the part of 
the ministry, or they must fall, and with them the hopes of internal tranquility 
and of foreign peace. 

" The opposition with us, I see, is not less bold than in the land of our ancestors. 
I cannot believe, however, that in all the wantonness of their power in the Senate 
they will do so mad an act as to frustrate the nomination of Mr. Van Buren, which 
would inevitably recoil upon themselves with overwhelming condemnation. What, 
however, I shall not be surprised to see is, that without absolutely rejecting the 
Treaty made here, they return it with some modifications, the effect of which will be 
the same ; for this government would be too happy to have such an excuse to get 
rid of the whole affair which is likely to embarrass them very seriously with the 
Chambers, and has already called forth some very severe criticisms from the press. 
It is the stipulation about the duties on French wines, I see, which the newspaper 
opposition has fastened upon as incompatible with the established principles of our 
commercial policy. Without entering into the special motives of this stipulation 
which have never been adverted to in the newspaper discussions I have seen (and 
which you know was to get rid of a most embarrassing claim to perpetual privileges 
under the Treaty of Louisiana that had heretofore thwarted all the negotiations for 
indemnity to our citizens — a claim which the late administration had most unwisely 
proposed to refer to arbitration, involving thus the risk of a decision which Mr. 
Gallatin, in his letter of February 27th, 1828, to Mons. Chateaubriand, most sat- 
isfactorily shows would put it in the power of France to monopolize the whole car- 
riage of the commerce with Louisiana ; without entering into these considerations, 
it may be well to recollect what advantages Mr. Adams himself had proposed to 
stipulate in favor of French wines and other productions of French industry, for 
mere reciprocity in navigation which Great Britain and other nations had agreed to, 
from the inherent justice of the principle, and without thinking of demanding any 
price for the agreement. With this view, I inclose you an extract from a note of 
Mr. Adams to Mr. De Neuville, of April 26th, 1821. Taa '• special'' accommoda- 
tions to the ' principal exports of France;' 'the gr-eat advantages granted to the 
commerce and manufactures of France,' there spoken of to be paid for by the mere 
principle of recijjrocity in navigation were, as appears from a preceding note of 
April 18th, a reduction of the duties on French wines, 'to ten cents a g.nllon in 
casks, and twenty cents in bottles,' and an increase of the discriminating duty on 
silks imported from the Cape of Good Hope ' to thirty per cent.' Now it is to be 
remarked that the reduction of duties here proposed by Mr. Adams for the princi- 
ple of recipymij/ which is always supposed to pay for itself, is relatively much 
greater than that which I agreed to for a renunciation of perpetual privileges of an 



240 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

important character claimed by virtue of an antecedent Treaty, and for a correspond- 
ing reduction of duties on one of our own products. Mr. Adams was willing to reduce 
the duties on French wines in bottles, for example, to twenty cents, when the existing 
duty on a portion of those wines (Champagne and Burgundy) were one hundred cents ; 
when the reduction stipulated by me was only to twenty-two cents at a time when 
the duty was fixed at thirty cents ; and so as to other points of the comparison which 
on reference to the existing laws of tlie two epochs will enable you to see in detail. It 
may be safely left to any candid mind to say, which of these two arrangements depart 
most widely from the real or supposed principles of our commercial policy. It may be 
said in regard to Mr. Adams' proposition, that for these commercial advantages to be 
granted by us, he required also an abolition of the monopoly on our tobacco in France. 
But this, although a part of the project of April 18th, 1821, was evidently abandoned 
and reciprocity m navigation only demanded, as appears very clearly from the last 
sentence of the extract inclosed, and still more unequivocally from his note of May 
11th, 1821, where he says, ' either the commercial concessions must be set aside, 
&c., &c., or if taken into the account, being all in favor of France, they must be 
compensated either by commercial concessions to the United States, or by entire 
reciprocity in the article relative to navigation.' I have inclosed you this extract 
and given you these explanations that you might be enabled if you thought proper, 
with the discretion you always exercise, to counteract through the medium of the 
press, any misrepresentations or false views which might be attempted to the preju- 
dice of the administration. I remain, Very truly your friend. &c." 

Extract of a Note of Mr. Adams of 26th April, 1821, to Monsieur De 

Neuville. 

" Whatever disadvantages the French Navigation may labor under in competi- 
tion with that of the United States are believed to be within control for removal. 
Nevertheless, the opinion of the French Government on the subject, being stated by 
the Baron Ue Neuville to be irrevocably fixed, the President has been willing to 
meet any supposed disadvantage to France in such an arrangement by advantages 
thought to be fully equivalent for them to the agriculture, commerce, and manufac- 
tures of France. In the minutes of a project, first presented by the Baron De Neu- 



^l^ ranee to tne united states, and otrier Oenejits to i^rencn mteresis, an km. wuiun « eiu 
assented to by tlie President to the extent proposed by the Baron himself. In return 
for these concessions, he had reason to expect some concession on the part of France, 
in which, however, he has thus far been disappointed. He thought that with such great 
advantcKjes granted to the commerce and manufactures of France^ the least that woiild 
he required in return was that rccij)rocity which should discard all discriminating 
duties upon the mere carriage of the trade.'''' 

C. C. Cambreling to James A. Hamilton. 

" WAsniNGTON, D. C, February 9, 1832. 
"Mt Dear Sir : I have your esteemed letter of the 4th inst. I thought, on re- 
flection, that our friend Y. B. had better return as soon as possible, so as to address 
the Union upon his triumi)lial entry at New York about the 1st of May ; but without 
any idea of going into the Senatorial cockpit. 

" If he is not our V. P., then he must go into the Senate; but not till then. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 241 

"I have written as you have directed; others have written to the General. L. 
told me so. 

" Very truly, yours, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to E. Croswell. 

" New Yoek, February 11, 1832. 

'•Dear Sir: I have just received a letter from Washington from such a source 
as to entitle it to all confidence and consideration, expressing a wish that our Legisla- 
ture would pass a resolution requesting the Governor, on behalf of the State, to ad- 
dress a letter to tlie President relative to Van Buren's nomination ; and giving the 
assurance that an answer would be given which would have a most powerful and 
overwhelming eftect. I most earnestly unite with the writer in wishing that such a 
step, if it be possible, might be taken. And why may it not ? The Senate, a branch 
of the Government coordinate with the President, has condemned a person — a citizen 
of New York, in whom the people and the Legislature have manifested a deep in- 
terest and the fullest confidence — avowedly for misconduct in his office; and as mani- 
festly without full information on the subject which is the foundation of that chnrge. 
The President has the information ; and what good reason can there be why such an 
application should not be made? You will agree with me that the attempt ought 
not to be made without certain success. You will also see that such a course will 
excite deep and intense interest; that we want: we require the opposition papers 
to teem with abuse of us ; and particularly that they should do so because we seeh 
information. You will also readily admit that such an answer as might be given 
in relation to the instructions and the dissolution of the Cabinet, under the Pres- 
ident's own hand, would be powerful — nay, invincible. I am further informed that 
great exertions are being made, and with some appearance of success, in Pennsylva- 
nia, Alabama, and elsewhere; and we are called upon to do all we can without and 
something with hazard. Let me hear from you in reply as soon as you have re- 
ceived this letter; at all events to inform me that you have received it. I dare not 

write to any other friend. 

"Yours, &c." 

After Van Buren's nomination as Minister to England was rejected, by the 
casting vote of Calhoun, I wrote to Van Buren's political friends, most earnestly 
urging them to bring him forward as a candidate for Vice-President at the 
approaching Presidential election, Jackson being the candidate for President. 

In reply to a letter I addressed to Wm. L. Marcy, a Senator from New York, 
urging Van Buren's nomination, he wrote : 

"Washingtox, February 7, 1832. 

" Your advice is good that we should not look back but direct our attention to 
the future * * * There is here scarcely a dissenting opinion as to the policy of 
pushing Van Buren for Vice-President, and I am sorry to hear from Albany that 
our friends there do not fall in with that idea. They think of making him Govcrncr. 
This, in ray judgment, is a mistaken notion. It is unnecessarily circumscribing the 
influence of an act which naturally operates beneficially in every part of the Union." 
16 



242 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Cambreling in reply writes : 

'"Washixgtou, January 31, 1832. 

"My Dkae Sir : There is but a plain course for Mr. Van Buren : the Vice-Presi- 
dency, We must be universal and strong in favor of Van Buren. * * * Write to 
Van Buren and tell him not to adopt McLane's bad plan for him, to come home in 
a hurry and go into the Senate. Let us receive him in triumph in June. He must 
act with dignity." 

E. Croswell to James A. Hamilton. 

" Albany, February, 1832. 
" My Dear Sir: On the receipt of your favor of the 11th inst., the respective let- 
ters on the part of the Committees of the Legislature and the citizens to be addressed 
to the President were in a train of preparation. And in compliance with your sug- 
gestion and with a similar one from Judge Marcy received at the same time, they were 
both so written as to give the President an opportunity to say everything on the subject 
that he may desire, or that the circumstances may demand. This, on the whole, was 
deemed to be th^best course. In this shape it is the unanimous act of the republic- 
an members of the legislature, as well as of the republican citizens of the Capital. 
At best, if the proceeding had been made a legislative act, it could have had, of 
course, only the republican votes ; and it was questioned whether an opportunity ought 
to be afforded the opposition to debate the question, and perhaps protract a decision 
upon it. The letters were inclosed to the President by last night's mail. In rela- 
'tion to the Vice-Presidency, about which I ought and designed to have written you 
n>efore this, there is still some, indeed, considerable diversity of opinion among our 
■friends here, and so far as I learn throughout the State. At first, scarcely a friend 
■of ours was in favor of the nomination of Mr. Van Buren for that place. But your 
Jletters and those of the delegation at "\^'ashington (with a few exceptions), and the 
;assurances in relation to Pennsylvania and Virginia, have produced a visible change. 
The objections to the Vice-Presidency, came from two causes, one legitimate and 
■entitled to all consideration, the other less so, and more or less selfish or local. 
1st, The intrinsic objections to the office, the uncertainty and embarrassments of the 
•election, the ground of lasting hostility in Pennsylvania if not Virginia, and its injuri- 
ous consequences in relation to the great ultimate object. 2d, The desire to relieve 
■the liome question of all difficulty, and to preserve and augment our local strength by 
Mr. Van Buren's election as Governor. With these considerations pressed upon us 
on the one hand— with the strong, and as I think, conclusive arguments from yourself 
.and our friends at Washington on the other, we have endeavored to prevent any 
■ excessive feeling on either side ; and to present the matter in such a shape as will 
produce a ready and cordial acquiescence in any result. I am happy to say that such 
is the present state of things generally. I do not mean to be understood that in 
•either event, or whatever may be the shape in which Mr. Van Buren shall come be- 
fore the people, there is a republican in the State that will not come to his support 
with alacrity; but it has been thought best so to present the matter as to prevent, 
.as far as possible, any portion of our friends from giving him much support for the 
Vice-Presidency, under the conviction, at the same time, that it was a step prejudicial 
•.to his ultimate interests and the expectations of the State. I have only time to add 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 243 

that I sliall be happy to hear from you at all times, and that I remain, with great 
regard, 

" Yours, &c." 

William B, Lewis to James A. Hamilton. 

1832. 
"I received a letter yesterday from Mr. Flagg, of Albany. Our friends there are 
all wrong. They talk of running Mr. Van Buren for Governor of the State. If any- 
thing of that kind is contemplated, they had better cut his throat at once. If the 
party do not seize the present occasion for bringing him prominently before the 
Nation^ he will, in my opinion, inevitably go down as a politician. If the Republican 
party cannot, under existing circumstances, make him Vice-President, they need 
never look to the Presidency for him. This, ray dear sir, is my opinion, and it is the 
opinion of many of our best friends. The Cabinet is unanimously in favor of run- 
ning him, and such is the feeling of all our friends everywliere. I think you had 
better go to Albany and have this matter put right. The thing is resolved on here, 
and every true friend should come out boldly. It will not do, in times like the pres- 
ent, to halt between two opinions. There should be no temporizing. Public feeling 
is with us. In this I cannot be mistaken. Do not, therefore, let us lose so glorious 
an opportunity of strengthening and consolidating the party. 

" I am, as usual, your sincere friend, &c." 

James A. Hamilton" to a Friend. 

" Washington, March 14, 1802. 

" Of politics there is nothing of particular, but a great deal of general interest. The 
unpatriotic spirit manifested here, renders me impatient and unhappy. The opposi- 
tion are so bent upon pulling down this administration, that to do so they are 
anxious to frustrate every measure, however deeply it may wound our beautiful sys- 
tem. The anxious wish of the administration is to make a compromise in relation 
to the Tariff, and Mr. McLane says he will furnish a bill in that spirit which ought 
to be passed ; but I much fear nothing will be done. The South Carolina members, 
it is believed, will oppose such a course, lest by tranquilizing their own State, they 
should lose their political influence and control. If this is so, they, with the aid of 
the high tariff, will control, and God knows what will be the issue. The 
Bank is evidently losing friends, and should the enquiry which is called for by those 
who are opposed to it be instituted, no bill will be passed this Session. On the 
other hand, should that enquiry not be made successfully and a Bank bill be passed, 
the President will most certainly veto it. lie is open and determined on this point. 
I conferred with him yesterday on the subject. I told him what the opposition 
avowed as their motive for pushing the bill during the Session. lie replied, ' I will 
prove to them that I never flinch ; that they were mistaken when they expected to 
act upon me by such considerations.' 

" I will, in this connection, as to the Bank, make the following statement of facts 
within my own knowledge. McLane told me that he had most earnestly urged Mr. 
Clay not to attempt to pass a Bank bill at this Session, insisting that, if deferred to the 
next Session, he was satisfied that he could by that time, and by a Bank bill so framed 
as would be as useful as was necessary, induce Jackson to approve it. But that Clay 



244 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

persisted in the hope that, if the President approved the bill, he would lose the sup- 
port of those of his party who had approved his opposition to the Bank, and a 
vast many others who approved of the State Bank system. And, on the other 
hand, if the President vetoed the bill, he would lose Pennsylvania and his elec- 
tion. This was the true view of the whole subject, and it was to the effect of his 
veto upon Pennsylvania to which he referred." 

Pkestdent Andrew Jackson to Col. James A. Hamilton. 

"March 28, 1832. 

" My Dear Sir : Your letter of the 25th instant has just reached me. The affairs 
of the Bank I anticipated to be precisely such as you have intimated. "When fully 
disclosed, and the branches looked into, it will be seen that its corrupting influence 
has been extended everywhere that could add to its strength and secure its rechart- 
er. T wish it may not have extended its influence over many memhers of Congress. 
I wish this for the honor of our beloved country. Ours is a government based upon 
the virtue and intelligence of the people, and every temptation should be kept as far 
from us in pulJie life as possible, and all our acts and endeavors ought to be to mor- 
alize, not demoralize, the people. 

" No Minister to England will be nominated until Mr. Van Buren returns, and 
perhaps not before the next meeting of Congress ; and I have not permitted myself 
to think of iiis successor. If Mr. Rives returns, and when he returns, I will send a 
Minister to France. Mr. E. Livingston has his eye on this mission, but it will re- 
quire some deep reflection — his place would be hard to fill — and before it is made 
vacant, a proper selection must be made. When I see you I will he more able to 
give you my views. No sl,ep will be taken in either until Mr. Van Buren arrives. 

"Believe me to be your friend, &c,'' 

Martin Van Buren to James A, Hamilton. 

"London, April 1, 18S2. 

"My Dear Sir: I owe you, with many other friends, an apology for not having 
written to you, but I know I can trust to your good sense and good feeling for not 
having made you an exception. I am off for Paris in the morning, and write this 
principally to say that I have sent by the Sovereign, Captain Champlin, to your 
care, three boxes, Nos, 13, 24, and 25, containing plate and private papers, which I 
beg you to keej) for me till my return. The treatment which I have received from 
the King, his Ministers, and all the foreign functionaries here, since the announce- 
ment of my rejection, has been of the most kind and delicate character, and has, I 
confess, been very gratifying. 

" Yours, &c." 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, April 16, 1832. 
"My Dear Sir: I received your letter recommending Captain Webb, and am 
now engaged examining the long roll of applicants for the Ordnance Department. 
Have not yet come to a final conclusion of what selection will be made. I received 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 245 

yonr last of the lltli instant, and sincerely regretted to hear of the niolanoholy 
attack of Mr. Noah — hope he has recovered, as I have heard notliing from him since. 
I beg yon to hasten the return of my manuscript-book.* I wish to he ready the 
first opportunity that may present to make the reply. Fail not to have it here 
soon, 

" I am, very respectfully, yours, «&c." 

Louis McLane to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, April 29, 1832. 
" Dear Sir : I received, the day before yesterday, your letter respecting the 
President's manuscript. I can conceive of no possible good that could attend such 
a step in the present posture of affairs, and I am satisfied that it would be productive 
of unhappiness to the President, and of incalculable injury to his cause and his 
friends. It would be most unwise, at the present time, to make any issue between 
the President and the individual principally concerned. It ought properly to have 
no concern with the coming struggle, and for the purpose of personal and historical 
satisfaction, a period less disturbed by party and political strife will be much more 
favorable. I doubt if you could do Mr. Calhoun a greater favor than to make an 
issue in which he would see some hope of resuscitation. We already have causes 
of inquietude enough, and this would tend to increase them. I speak without going 
more into details, from my unfeigned interest in the President, and an earnest desire 
to promote his individual happiness and public renown; and I shall feel it to be my 
bounden duty if he will permit me to counsel him to peace and tranquility to exert 
his mind and patriotism to restore harmony to his country, and advance tlie pros- 
perity of his fellow-citizens, and to leave the gratification of his individual feelings, 
and even the vindication of his just military fame, to a fitter opportunity. Rely 
upon it that our policy is not to be provoked into angry collisions by the coarseness 
and violence of our opponents. Theirs is a desperate cause, as that of a factious and 
feeble minority always is. Ours is the cause of the mnjority of the people, and will 
become weak when we lose our temper or dignity. Let us rely upon the wisdom 
and patriotism of our measures, and avoid, as far as possible, all individual jars. 

" I am, dear sir, respectfully, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to Louis McLane. 

"New York, May 6, 1832. 
" My Dear Sir: I have not had a moment's time to acknowledge your letter of 
the 29th ultimo, and I caunot now reply to it further than to say, that if it is not 
absolutely certain that he is to gain by the publication a positive advantage, it 
ought not to be made. I agree with you as to our position and tlie course to be i)ur- 
sued, and after giving the subject further consideration, if my former convictions are 
changed to doubts, which is almost already done by the fact tliat you difler from 
me, I will write to the President as you suggest. I do not learn from your letter 



* Reply to Calhoun, sor.t to me to be examined, with a request that I would revise 
and correct it. I did so, and urgently advised him not to publish. I believe it was not 
published. 



246 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

whether you are informed of the scope of the manuscript. I visited Washington in 
relation to tlie Bruen business. I intended to have conferred freely with you on 
this subject, and also in relation to the Custom House concerns, which, I think, in 
i^any respects require attention, but which cannot be so well explained by letter. 

"The expected failures have commenced. Three were announced on Friday; 
and several intimated yesterday. The difficulty of obtaining money, although very 
great, is increasing dnily. The bonds of Peterson & March — a failure of a month 
ago — are now becoming due, and all the parties — tTiree foreign Consuls — have run 
away. The debt is about $30,000. 

" With sincere regards, yours, &c." 



James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

" New Yoek, June 15, 1832. 

"Mt Dear Sir: As it is understood that the opponents of compromise intend to 
call upon our Legislature to pass resolutions which Avill aid them, it becomes there- 
fore the duty of the friends of Union and your Administration to defeat that at- 
tempt, and to endeavor to induce the Legislature to pass resolutions in favor of com- 
promise. To that end, I intend to go to Albany and spend a few days there during 
the Session. I feel assured if nothing is done to promote, something will be done to 
frustrate, our wishes. 

" The state of things in England is such as I have supposed might render it 
deserving of consideration whether we ought not to be represented there in a 
stronger manner than we now are. Should there be revolution, an American Min- 
ister of talent and character, without improper interference, could do much to ben- 
efit both countries, and the liberal party will feel that they have a right to such a 
measure at your hands. 

"I always feel at liberty to communicate any suggestions that occur to me, with- 
out fearing the imputation _/?•(?)« you of improper interference. 

" "With the truest attachment, your servant and friend, &c." 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, July 15, 1832. 

" My Dear Sir : I have only time to say a word to you in behalf of my old 
friend the Chevalier. Do not let the cholera kill his man of jewels, and answer Mr. 
Livingston's letter as soon as you can. I am very anxious that the application which 
has been made by the Dutch Government should succeed,* if it can be with propriety 
so arranged, and I am sure it will give you j-leasure to contribute all in your power. 
The Tariff Bill has passed under the most favorable circumstances. The Bank Bill 
has this moment failed by a vute of 19 to 23. The veto is operating powerfully as 
far as we hear, and the Session is winding up finally. My arrival could not have been 
more opportune, and 1 have thus far been highly gratified with my visit here. Re- 
member me kindly to Mrs. II. and the young ladies, and believe me to be, 

"Very truly yours, &c." 

* To send Polari, the thief, to Ilolland. It was done. 



UEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 247 

James A. Hamilton, U. S. District Attorney, to V, Maxey, Solicitor of the 

Treasury. 

"New Yo'K, July 27, 1832. 
"Sik: The persons confined at Bellevue Prison, charged with offences against 
the United States (Poiari excepted), ten in number, were discharged on the 25th 
inst. on their own recognizances. Judge Belts, on heing informed of tlie course I 
intended to pursue in relation to these men, wrote to me thus: ' I am glad you have 
concluded to discharge tlie prisoners. The hazard to life in Iceeping them in close 
confinement must be imminent, and I do not believe the character of their oftences 
would justify to the public feeling so dangerous an exposure.' Tlie disease is dimin- 
ishing in the city, but extending to every part of the country. I sincerely hope you 
may, but I do not believe you will, escape it. Your obedient servant, &c." 

Martin Van Buhen to James A. Hamilton. 

" KiNDEEnooK, August 5, 1832. 

"My Dear Sir: Your letter is received. I found the old chief laboring under 
his veto, but the moment he was delivered of it he Avas, as usual, perfectly at his 
ease and in the best of spirits. It is most clear that that is destined to be the most 
popular act of his life. You can have no conception of the universal interest which 
the great body of the people take in this matter, and the almost uniform side they 
also take. I have seen the bitterest of his opponents who feel constrained to 
speak well of it. Things are going on very well at Washington. Mr. Livingston 
goes to France as soon as Mr. Rives leaves it. The Maine business is in as favor- 
able a train as circumstances permit. It would not; be discreet to trust to the mail, 
at these times, more explicit replies to some of your queries. We must, therefore, 
let them be until I have the pleasure of seeing you. The election prospects are 
generally good. Pennsylvania is as safe as Tennessee. If I am to judge by the speci- 
mens of public feeling which I have seen, or the I'epresentations of our friends, I 
should say that we are quite safe here. Nothing, however, that can with propriety 
be done, should be omitted." 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton". 

" November 2, 1832. 

"My Dear Sir: I have just received your letter of the 30th ult. for which I 
thank you. 

"I am well advised of the views and proceedings of the great leading Nullifiers 
of the South in my native State (S. 0.}, and weep for its fate, and over the delusion 
into which the people are led by the wickedness, ambition, and folly of their leaders. 
I have no doubt of the intention of their leaders: first to alarm the other States, 
that they may submit to their views rather than a dissolution of the Union should 
take place. If they fail in this, to cover their own disgrace and wickedness to nul- 
lify the Tariff" and secede from the Union. 

" We are wide awake here. The Union will he preserved; rest assured of this. 
There has been too much blood and treasure shed to obtain it, to let it bo surren- 
dered without a struggle ; our liberty and that of the whole world rest upon it, as 



248 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

well as the peace, prosperit}', and happiness of these United States. It must he per- 
petuated. I have no time to say more. My health is good, improved by the travel. 
" With a teuder of my kind salutations to you and your amiable family, 

'• I am, feincerely your friend." 

Mautin Van Bukex to James A. Hamilton. 

"November 16, 1832. 

" My Deae Sir : I am sorry you c;innot go witli us, but your business is of more 
importance. I think they could have no objection to pay up. * * * has received 
his, and has, I presume, no objection to be reimbursed by me. 

" I have some delicate writing to do which requires more leisure that I can have 
in this city, unless I can hide myself. If there is no earthly objection or inconven- 
ience in it, I propose to come to your house from Judge Oakley's to-morrow night, 
and stay with you until Monday morning, under the pretence here that I have gone 
into the country. Let me kuow how this will suit, and whether you dine at 
Oakley's, Yours, &c." 

PnEsiDENT Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" November 26, 1832. 
"Yours of the 23d is this moment received and duly considered. Before this 
reaches you, you will have received the Secretary of the Treasury's letter upon the 
subject of the suits, &c., as ai)proved by me, which will be your guide. 

"I am sorry we are disappointed in not seeing you here. When your leisure will 
permit, we expect that pleasure. I have no time to sny more. 

" I am, respectfully your friend." 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, December 6, 1832. 

" Yours of the 3d is just at hand. I accord with you fully in the propriety of 
the i)eople g'lx'mg fuUi/ and freehj their sentiments and opinions on Nullihcation, and 
the course pursued by South Carolina in her late pjroceedings. 

"The ordinance passed, when taken in connection with the Governor's Mes- 
sage, is rebellion and war against the Union. The raising of troops under them to 
resist the laws of the United States is absolute treason. The crisis must be, and as far 
as my constitutional and legal powers authorize, will be, met with energy and firm- 
ness. Hence the propriety of the public voice being heard — and it ought now 
to bo spoken in a voice of thunder, that Avill make the leaders of the nullifiers 
tremble, and cause the good citizens of South Carolina to retrace their steps? 
and adhere to that Constitution of perpetual union they have sworn to support. This 
treasonable procedure against the Union, and not only our liberties but the liberties 
of the world,— this nullifying movement in the South, — has done us great injury 
abroad, and must not only be promptly met, but put down by public opinion. It is, 
therefore, highly ])roper for the people to speak out all over the Union. I am pre- 
paring a Proclamation to the people of the South, and as soon as olBcially advised 
of these rebellious proceedings, will make a communication to Congress. I can say 
EO more, as I am surrounded at present, and bid you for the present adieu." 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 249 

One of the most painful events of my life was imposed upon me in tlie per- 
formance of my duties as District Attorney of the United States. 

lu 1832, three persons were arrested and brought into New York charged 
■with, and who were unquestionably guilty of, most atrocious piracy and 
murder. 

The Captain and part of the crew were killed, the vessel was stranded and 
lost. 

Gibbs, a black man, and a boy of about sixteen years of age, were arrested. 
The evidence of guilt was not so full as to insure a conviction, unless one of 
these parties should be made State's evidence, which would discharge such one 
from trial. The duty and responsibility of selecting the person to be made a 
witness rested with the Attorney ; and thus the responsibility was thrown upon 
him of deciding which of these three persons should he saved from death. To 
have the life or death of a human being in one's hands, was a most painful 
condition. I deliberated much and most anxiously, I endeavored to obtain 
independent testimony sufficient to convict, but in vain ; I could not avoid the 
responsibility, and I selected the boy as the witness, as probably the least 
guilty, and by his testimony and the partial confession of Gibbs that the Cap- 
tain had been killed and the vessel stranded without stating who did this wick- 
edness, Gibbs and the black man were, after a most carefully contested trial, found 
guilty, sentenced, and executed. The boy was set at liberty. The criminals 
alleged that the boy was as guilty as they were. He was an English boy. I 
advised and assisted to return him to his own country, and I heard nothing 
more of him. He was very penitent and very grateful to me for saving his 
life. He was intelligent enough to appreciate what had been done, and in what 
extreme peril he had been placed. 

Edward Livingston, Secretary of State, to James A. Hamilton. 

"June 7, 1831. 
"The President has examined the papers in relation to the disclosures made by 
Gibbs, and has du-ected me to inform you that you are at liberty to employ * * * * 
in such a manner as you tliiuk will best attain the object of ascertaining the 
truth of the confession, and securing the proof necessary to convict those concerned 
in the transaction." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

" January, 1833. 
"MyDearSik: Ihave just read a second time your 'message of the IGth in- 
stant (as to Nullification), and cannot refrain, in justice to my own feelings and 
principles, and to my present relations to you, from expressing my entire api)roval, 
and, I may add, the pride I feel in all you Lave done on the sul>ject to whicli it re- 
fers. To express all the admiration your course has excited, would not entirely com- 
port with delicacy or propriety. Your views of the principles of our Government 
are those alone on which it can be administered and preserved ; and allow mo to say, 



250 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

from a very careful search after public opinion as expressed by individuals, by the 
public papers, by meetings, and by the public functionaries (Governors and Legis- 
latures) of the different States, they are the views of the nation, notwithstanding 
the faint echo of former opinion, which a small majority, perhaps in tlie Virginia 
Legislature, are struggling to give out. 

" I regret, deeply regret that our Legislature should not have acted on this sub- 
ject ; it was due to you emphatically ; to the rank of the State and to the feelings 
of her citizens that New York should come forward in her strength. 

'' With that freedom in which I have been accustomed to commune with you I 
say that I deeply regret that considerations of any kind whatever should have in- 
duced this restraint at sucli an epoch as this : I know no party, or interest, or feel- 
ings, only such as belong to tlie country ; her permanent interest and glory ought 
to be the Polar star of every man connected in any degree with public affairs. 

" Some of the Virginia doctrines as to State rights — I mean those which can direct- 
ly, or even remotely, sanction the right of secession — resulted from a state of feelings 
and interests not the most propitious to the most enlightened views of the origin and 
character of our Government. They have not outlived with the great Pithlic the 
occnsion which produced them ; and they ought not now to be reiterated ; and yet I 
fear there are some among them who wait for a voice from Virginia ; and who fear 
if they acquiesce in your views, which are those of the nation, that the influence of 
their party will be diminished. 

" Tliis is a radical error. That party in this country which believes that princi- 
ple alone can permanently succeed is that one whose principles are founded on an 
enlightened patriotism, having for the object of its whole exertions, ^rs^, the pre- 
servation of the Union ; and next, the administration of our happy form of Gov- 
ernment in simplicity and truth. 

" United, we must in, the course of time and ere long become, ly po2)ulation and 
wealth the most foxcerful nation in the tcorld ; and, let me add, if ice shall be governed 
hy a high degree of Ghridian civilization we will he a Messing and a guide to all 
2)eoj)Ics. On the contrary, if we aj'e governed as nations hitherto haveieen, — ly a love 
of military renown alone, — we loill he a scourge to our race. 

" I write to you with freedom and in confidence, and yet I do not express half 
I feel or think. 

" Before I close this too long letter, allow me to say, knowing as I do the harass- 
ing extent of the engagements of yourself and confidential friends at this juncture, 
that if I can be of any use to you in any, even the most subordinate, situation, I 
will immediately repair to Washington, and pass a month at least devoted to any 
service which may promote the public welfare. I do not seek a participation in 
advising; but merely in executing under your directions. I can so arrange my 
business as by my absence not to impair my oflicial usefulness here." 
" With the truest attachment, your friend." 

Note. — Finding that the majority of the Legislature at Albany, the party 
of the Administration, and the partizans of Van Buren were putting off the 
expression of opinion in approval of the President's course — His message or 
Proclamation, I wrote several, letters to leading men in Albany urging them 
to pass strong resolutions approving of the course of the President, and 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 251 

denouncing nullification ; but without success. This backwardness arose from 
a fear that the approval of the views of the President in regard to the constitu- 
tion, the subordination of the States, and the repudiation of the right or 
power of a state to nullify the laws of Congress, or to withdraw from the Union, 
might offend the party in Virginia. I addressed a letter to Van Buren on the 
subject in which I expressed the hope that he would use his influence with his 
political friends in the Legislature, to pass resolutions approving the course of 
the President. This letter he returned to me, having opened it, without a 
word of explanation. This unfriendly, nay, offensive course, resulted from Van 
Buren's fear of offending the dominant political party of Virginia. 

Pkesident Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" WAsniNGTON, February 23, 1833. 

" I am indebted to you for replies to many of your kind letters ; and the only 
apology I can offer is the continued press of business, and lately, want of good 
Jiealth. I have been, I may truly say, tulerably pressed with business from sunrise 
to 12 at night. 

" Your last was by your amiable mother, with whom I have been mncb pleased, 
and am gratified to find that she retains all her faculties, and has clear recollections 
of our past lastory, in wliicb her deceased Iinsband acted so conspicuous a part. 

She informed me that she walked every day from Mr. 's to the capitol I regret 

very much that my engagements have been such that I could not pay more attention 
to her and her family than I have done. 

"I have been looking for you here. "When will you be witli us? "Ulll you 
come with Mr. Van Buren? I expect the pleasure of seeing you liere before the 4th 
of March. 

"The papers will have given you the union between Mr. Clay and Mr. Calhoun. 
How strange their position ! Nullification cannot be recognized as a peaceful and 
constitutional measure, and the American system of Mr. Clay being on the wane, 
a union between these two extremes is formed ; and I have no doubt the Peoi le 
will duly appreciate the motives wliich have led to it. I have good reason to be 
content, even gratified, with my own course, as I find these men are obliged to 
adopt it to give peace and harmony to the Union. 

" I have to attend the funeral at 11. I must close. Believe me your friend." 



James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

" New Toek, February 28, 1833. 
"My Dear Sie : T had the pleasure yesterday to address a letter to you, but 
inadvertently omitted the subject of this letter. I am informed by a gtntleman- 
whose knowledge of the views of the United States Bank is only second to that of 
its President, and therefore repeat to you (with the assurance that you may rely 
upon it), that the bank counts upon being recbartered. Its purpose is for the next 
two years to fortify itself beyond all hazard by calling in its responsibilities gradually, 
to an amount at which they will be entirely manageable, and also by securing its 



252 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

debts. This operation will be performed under the avowed idea that it is necessary 
and preliminary to winding up its concerns. The State Banks, oid and new — and 
particularly the latter, it is believed — will consequently extend their discounts. The 
United States Bank will employ a part of its means in purchasing exchange, and 
otherwise securing a large credit in London ; and at the proper time, about the 
expiration of the period referred to, it will by withholding bills and by other means 
within its power cause exchange to advance so as to cause the exportation of specie 
and thus occasion a run upon all the moneyed institutions. This it will be prepared 
for. The affairs of the State Banks will consequently be so deranged as to compel 
them to i-top specie payments. The immense injury to the whole nation resulting 
from that event, it is believed, and not without foundation, will induce a stronger 
public feeling in favor of a recharter of the Bank as the only means of restoring a 
sound currency; and that will be pressed by the friends and retainers of the Bank 
upon a new Congress and your successor, with a force that they hope he will be 
unable to resist. The project is feasible and must, if attempted, whether successful 
or not, be productive of infinite mischief, because the whole monetary system of the 
country will be deranged. The first state of things resulting from the multiplication 
of State Banks which is going on to an unequalled extent will be that money will 
be abundant; that is to say, that discounts will be freely made, and that from these 
facilities prices will rise, and there will be excessive over-trading. The reduction 
of duties by the new tariff will cooperate with the other circumstances to induce 
this excess. The next state of things is the reaction which will not be far removed 
from its cause, and is as certain as fate. It will be pushed by the United States 
Bank to the consequences and for the end to which I have referred. Having, as I 
hope you have, settled the Southern difliculties, this subject seems to me to come 
next in order for consideration, as it is in consequence. The serpent is scotched, not 
killed. It has power as long as it can wind and move its immeasurable length 
along. Its exertions will be violent because it is a struggle for existence in which 
there will be no regard paid to the interests of the country which gave it life. 
Should these be seriously involved, the reputation of your Administration may 
not escaped unquestioned. 

" Should I hear anything more, or should any new thoughts occur to me, I will 
write to you Avithout reserve. 

"With the truest attachment, your friend." 



A Letter to a Discreet Friend. 

"Washington, March 19, 1833. 
"I am up to my eyes in business. Enjoying all the confidence of the President 
and the gentlemen about him, particularly McLane, I cannot tell you how readily 
I take to my former employments here; and how gladly I would plunge into the 
troubled waters again. There is an excitement in this large game which is most 
congenial with my feelings and temperament. I have very narrowly escaped being 
brought here; and, indeed, I think events will turn up in such a form as will call me. 
I must say that I would not regret the change, you know how mounting my ambi- 
tion is. All well. Yours, 

" James A. Hamilton." 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 253 

EEMOVAL OF THE DEPOSITS. 

I visited President Jackson, on his arrival at New York. Durino- the in- 
terview he said, "I wish you to be with me as much as you can. I am°to have 
a public dinner, and I wish you not only to be there, but to sit next to me." 
The evening before the dinner, he said: " Colonel ! come to my room to-mor- 
row, just before the dinner hour, and we will go in together." I did so, and 
was seated next to him. Before we left the room, he gave me several papers ; 
told me to read them with care and give him my opinion, in writing, on the 
subject. These papers were written by three or four different persons, urgin<^ 
the President to remove the public moneys deposited in the Bank of the United 
States and its branches. 

When I returned these papers, which I did immediately, they were accom- 
panied by a short note stating that the subject was one of such vast importance 
that I could not treat it without more time and deliberation than I then had ; that 
I would inform myself by conferring with the most distinguished bankers, and 
give him the result. I added, " My first impression is, that the measure pro- 
posed was a very questionable one, and must lead to great disturbance in com- 
mercial affairs." 

Mr. McLane, Secretary of State, had previously called upon me to obtain 
the opinions, in writing, of distinguished bankers in New York on this subject. 
To that end, I called upon several leading men, and invited them to a meetintr 
to talk over the subject of the removal of the deposits. At this meetino-, all 
agreed that the measure would be difficult of accomplishment and disastrous in 
its effects upon the business of the country ; that the State banks could not be 
so combined as to supply the place of the Bank of the United States, 

I had, at the same time, an interview with the Hon. Albert Gallatin. He / 
expressed the most decided opinion against the removal. He insisted that a 
Bank of the United States was an indispensable fiscal agent of the Treasury as 
his experience had convinced him. He asked, " What can induce the President 
to take such a course ? In answer, referring to the refusal of the Bank to 
make an appointment he desired, I said : " Kesentment ! " He replied, " Ke- 
sentment! Resentment! the affairs of Government can only be successfully 
conducted by cool reasoning and the lessons of experience." 

I submitted to Mr. Isaac Bronson the annexed inquiries, to which he gave 
the annexed answers : 

Answers to questions propounded by Mr. Hamilton, in respect to the proposed 
transfer of deposits of public funds from the Bank of the United States to 
the State Banks, and the use of State Banks as the future receivers of public 
moneys. 

" Question Ist. If the deposits were withdrawn from the United States Bank, and 
placed m certain State Banks, would the power of the former be materially dimin- 
ished, aud of the latter increased thereby ? 



/ 



254 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

" 1st. I answer in the negative. The notes of the Bank must still be received in 
payment of the Government dues. The advantages of an extended circulation would 
continue to be enjoyed by it. The only effect then on the Bank would be a reduc- 
tion of profits, or a loss of interest on the average amount of permanent deposits. 
The Bank, with a moneyed capital of thirty-five millions and a circulation and private 
deposits of twenty to twenty-five millions more, could not feel very sensibly a with- 
drawal of two or three millions. After the Bank had reduced its loans by the amount 
of Government deposits withdrawn, it would still have ample means of pressing on 
the State Banks. 

" If it desired to do so, it might curtail the breadth of its credits, thereby obtain- 
ing a command of its loans, and then, by reducing the amount, bring the State Banks 
in debt at pleasure. The power of resistance on the part of the State Banks is only, in 
proportion to the amount that they refrained from using, in the ordinary mode of 
deriving profit from means. But reasoning from experience, it is not to be supposed 
that the State Banks would refrain from loaning out the deposits, and consequent- 
ly their power of resistance would not be increased. Assuming, for the pur- 
pose of the present inquiry, that tliere would be no standing accumulation of de- 
posits beyond the amount transferred from the Bank of the United States to the 
State Banks, that a large portion of subsequent receipts of moneys would be com- 
posed of distant bank notes, and that the State Banks would loan out the Govern- 
ment deposits, their power of resistance might be impaired, rather than strengthened. 
They must necessarily hold in reserve, to meet the general expenditures, an amount 
of their own proper means equal to that portion of receipts which consists of distant 
Branch notes, until these notes could be sent to the Branches and returned in avail- 
able funds. 

" Question 2ti It is asserted that the Western branches of the United States 
Bank have become indebted to the Atlantic Banks to the extent of sixteen millions, 
from the necessary flow of credits issued there to the Atlantic. And it is believed 
that if the public deposits should be made with the State institutions, that these 
"Western branches would become indebted to the Banks of deposit, and that thus the 
latter would acquire a control over the former. Would this be the effect of the 
change ? And if it would not — why not ? 

"2d. The Western branches are unquestionably indebted to the Atlantic branches 
and Parent Bank in a large amount, and the cause of that indebtedness existing in 
the actual course of business, the effect would be the same upon the exchange of de- 
posits to the State Banks ; and I consider this the most serious feature of the pro- 
posed change to the State Banks. If it gave them the means of checking the issues 
of the Western branches, it would, in the same or a greater degree, be the cause of 
weakness at home, and subject them to the control of both the Bank of the United 
States and other State Banks; and the latter would not probably be disposed to 
more lenity toward the favorites of the Government than the former. 

" Question 3d. — Would the change in the places of deposit of the public moneys 
alter the relation of debtor and creditor as between the United States Bank and 
those State Banks that might be selected as the places of deposit? 

" 3d. — Not if the Bank of the United States reduced its loans by an amount equal to 
the sum of its deposits withdrawn. If the State Banks loan out their deposits, they 
would cease to be creditors ; but whether they did or did not, the Bank of the 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 255 

United States would not be their debtor, if it paid the amount transferred from it to 
the State Banks by a reduction of its loans. 

" Question 4th. — Is there, generally speaking, as great or a greater amount due from 
the State Banks throughout the Union to the United States Bank than the probable 
amount of the permanent deposits ? 

"4th. — This question can be answered precisely by reference to the statements 
furnished by the Bank to Government. Not having a sei-ies of their statements, I 
can only give my impression that the indebtedness of the State Banks to the Bank 
of the United States is not ordinarily more than one fourth of the amount of the 
average of the public deposits. 

" Note. — The Banks of this city are now indebted one million to the United States 
Bank. Last fall they were two millions. 

" Question 5th. — If the deposits were withdrawn from the United States Bank, 
would it be required, in its present situation, to curtail its discounts? And if it were 
com])elled to do so, could the Banks of deposit supply the nmount of curtailment, or 
would not they also be compelled to diminish their accommodation? 

"5th. — Unquestionably the Bank of the United vStates must reduce its discounts 
by an amount equal to the average sum of public deposits withdrawn from it. It 
could not otherwise pay over the Government deposits except by reducing its specie, 
which I think it could not do safely, and would not permanently, in the position in 
which it would be placed by a withdrawal of the Government deposits; and as three 
or four months hence is suggested as the probable time of withdrawal, if done at 
all, the Bank will not fail to make the necessary curtailments so as to avoid re- 
ducing its specie, if it is not in fact already prepared for the proposed measure. If 
the exi^ting amount of circulation and credits be not greater than the legitimate 
demands of trade require, which is more than questionable; and if the balance of 
payments in our foreign trade should not run against us ; and if, also, no conflict 
should ensue between the Bank of the United States and the State Deposit Banks, 
the latter might safely supply the amount of credits and circulation which the former 
must necessarily withdraw from public use ; less, however, by the average amount 
paid of distant Branch notes received in payment of revenue. But that a conflict 
would ensue I cannot doubt ; and if for no other cause the receipt of distant Branch 
notes will furnish one in the efforts of the State Deposit Banks to restrain the issue of 
these notes by frequent calls for their redemption. As to tlie state of our foreign 
exchanges, I think they will run against us. Imported goods are now paying a fair 
profit, and as it has always happened so it will occur again : the amount of importa- 
tions will increase until they not only cease to be profitable, but until they become 
excessive, and result in actual losses. 

"There is perhaps no operation in banking more universally understood than 
that, a Bank in a single city reducing its loans, others in the same city must re- 
duce likewise. And that so soon as this affects the price of commodities, more 
distant Banks are compelled to contract their credits and circulation. If, then, the 
Bank of the United States commences a systematic reduction, the State Banks must 
either place themselves in the power of the former, or curtail their loans ; and not 
curtailing, a stoppage of specie payments would be inevitable. 

" Question 6th. — Ought the present United States Bank to be rechartered ? lias its 
management for the last two or three years been such as to deserve the public con- 
fidence and promote its interest ? 



256 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

" 6tli.— To the first branch of this inquiry I finsvver unhesitatingly in the negative. 
I give the same answer to the second branch. On this, however, I beg to enlarge. 
Up to the close of 1833, and until I saw the statements of the Bank under date 2d 
July, 1832, I advocated a renewal of the charter, but with some material modifica- 
tions. After analysing the statement and duly reflecting on the measures of the 
Bank and the motives of action which it developed, and looking also to the conse- 
quences that would follow, I came to the conclusion that there was an inherent vice 
in the system which forbade the hope of introducing such radical changes as expe- 
rience had shown to be indispensable to preserve a sound currency, and to prevent 
its deleterious influence upon the great monetary interests of our country and upon 
our invaluable public institutions. 

"If all the evil consequences did not ensue that the reckless issue of credits and 
circulation in 1831 was calculated to produce, it was to be attributed solely to the 
absence of a foreign demand for specie. The specie basis of our circulation was 
alarmingly reduced, and it only wanted a moderate foreign demand to produce an 
uncontrollable panic. Mitigated, however, as the case was by the absence of foreign 
demand for specie, it was sufiiciently severe on the importation of foreign goods 
in New York ; but as New York had been allowed the use of much less of the 
Bank funds than Philadelphia, the latter thus suftered more severely, and disastrous 
results have continued to occur during a longer period in Philadelphia than in New 
Y'ork. 

" Question 7th. — Could there be a combination of State Banks connected with and 
to perform the fisfal operations of the Government, so formed as to supply the place 
of the United States Bank, as the agent of the Treasury, and also to perform the 
more essential service to the country of checking and giving credit to the currency 
of the State Banks? 

" 7th. — I should say not. I caunot see how such a combination can be formed by 
State Banks as to answer the purpose indicated, and at the same time preserve their 
individuality. To form an efficient combination, such as would be indispensable to 
the purposes of Government and the great interests of the country, they must be 
subjected to one controlling will, and this power must be placed at some one com- 
manding point in respect to commerce and moneyed tran^^actions ; they must merge 
the individual interest into one common concern, and all the means must be resolved 
into one common stock. This would be, in fact, a Bank of tlie United States. 

" Each State Bank holding the Government funds would endeavor to make for 
itself the greatest possible advantage out of them, without reference to the interests 
of others. Jealousies and controversies would therefore arise upon the transfer of 
funds from one to another, and the Government would be beset with representations 
of their respective grievances, with complaints of its partiality and claims for its 
favor. But supposing, what is improbable, that the plan worked well in a time of 
internal and external quiet, and while the balance of payments was not against us on 
our foreign trade, would it, in case of some dissension at home, be safe for Gov- 
ernment to have its fiscal resources in possession of the State Banks and conse- 
quently in the power of States ? 

"The same spirit that prompted me once to propose the application of the 
taxes imposed by the General Government to the use of individual or a combination 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 257 

of States, and to stop the payment of import on foreign goods, would not hesitate to 
urge the adoption of the next step, that of seizing upon the actual funds of the 
Government ; and the Banks, actuated by the spirit of the community in which they 
are placed, would scarcely refrain from affording the opportunity for effecting such 
a measure. In the event of a foreign war, producing, as it probably would, an 
adverse course of exchange, it would not be in the power of the Government to 
prevent a suspension of specie payments. Our paper currency fills all the avenues of 
circulation to the extent of their utmost capacity, and requires all the support of the 
most unhesitating confidence to sustain it ; and this must continue while small notes 
are permitted to dispense with the use of specie in the smaller transactions of the 
community. Let this confidence become impaired, and it would almost certainly, 
by the vicissitudes of war, and hoarding superadded to the foreign drain, effect 
a suspension of specie payments. The history of our currency during the late 
war wHl tell the rest. 

" If State Banks be used as the receivers of the public revenue, the notes of such 
banks should be receivable everywhere in payment of Government dues, or the public 
accommodation would be materially impaired ; but if made so receivable, the banks 
will almost instantly avail themselves of the facility thus furnished of extending 
their issues, and thereby produce greater inequalities in the beneficial use of Gov- 
ernment deposits. 

" The course of business, as well as the disbursements of Government, draws the 
available currency from the South and "West to the North and East upon the Atlan- 
tic. The former consequently become debtors to the latter. "Would there not be 
much difliculty in the adjustment of balances? 

" My opinion is, that it would produce a prolific source of discord among the 
Deposit Banks, and not a little embarrassment to the Government itself. If any thing 
like a safety-fund system should be attempted, I presume it would require both the 
sanction of the State laws and of the stockholders of each Bank. 

" This could hardly be accomplished without consolidation, and this would form 
a Bank of the United States ; but if the combination could be eflected without con- 
solidation, and each Bank be made answerable for all the rest, the evils of misman- 
figement would be greater and less easily corrected than if each were responsible only 
for its own acts. 

" Question 8th. If the Government should withdraw its deposits from the 
United States Bank, would that measure increase or diminish the probability that 
that Bank would obtain a renewal of its charter in despite of the veto of the 
President? 

" 8t7i. The probability of renewal would, in my opinion, be very much increased. 
Next to an actual renewal, no measure of the Government would be so gratifying to 
the Bank. I know it to be desired by political men friendly to the Bank. It would 
have, or could be made to have, a powerful influence on Pennsylvania. It would 
furnish an excuse for every oftensive means the Bank might choose to adopt. 
The community would be the victim. 

" If let alone, it will in all probability endeavor to keep our moneyed affairs 
tolerably easy whilst the hope of recharter exists, and this hope will not, I think, be 
abandoned until another be proposed to take its place. When it ceases to look to a 
renewal, it will then adopt the course most beneficial to the stockholders, curtailing 
its loans so gradually as to allow them to be absorbed by other Banks, or paid with- 
17 



258 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

out the sacrifice of property that always ensues from rapidly reducing credit and 
circulation. 

" New York, April 4, 1833. 

" P. S.— The receipts of the Treasury from imposts during a year from this date, 
it is believed, will nut be less than seventeen, and they may amount to twenty mil- 
lions. The permanent deposit cannot be estimated at more than two, but it may be 
as large as three millions of dollars. From the course of the public business the 
deposits accumulate during the early part of the year, commencing from the adjourn- 
ment of Congress (that is the enactment of the ai)propiiation bills), and are drawn 
low toward the end. These assumptions are proper to be borne in mind, in connec- 
tion with the object of the following inquiries. It is probable, if the United States 
should determine to cea<e to deposit with the United States Bank, that the present 
funds in the Bank would not be withdrawn before the expiration of from ninety 
to one hundred and twenty days." 

Mr. Van Buren accompanied the President on bis eastern journey. Before 
leaving Washington, he had expressed to Cass, McLane, and others his decided 
disapproval of the President's purpose to withhold the deposits from the Bank. 
McLane frequently referred to this concurrence of Van Buren in his views, as 
did Cass. 

In the course of the journey, Van Buren finding the President was deter- 
mined upon this most unnecessary and pernicious measure, changed his opinions 
before they reached Concord, when, as McLane alleged, the President imme- 
diately determined to return with all haste to Washington, Van Buren accom- 
panying him. The latter on his arrival called upon McLane, and informed him 
of the President's determination and his change of opinion. McLane reproach- 
fully said, " You now advocate the removal in obedience to the wishes of the 
President." He replied, " I found the President was so determined that I 
could not oppose him." This recreancy on the part of Mr. Van Buren was most; 
painful to Mr. McLane, who, in letters to his friends, referred to it as very 
unworthy. 

Major AYilliam B. Lewis to James A. Hamilton. 

Washington, June 22, 1833. 

" Mt Deae Col. : Your kind letter of the iTth instant has been received. You 
had a gay time of it while the President was in New York. The whole world, 
from all accounts, must have been there to welcome and receive him. It must have 
been a splendid reception, and what is more gratifying, it was not less cordial than 
splendid. Did the good old gentleman have time to call on your family? I hope 
Mrs. Hamilton and Eliza did not miss seeing him. And the old lady, your mother, 
where was she? The General, you know, might call on her, if no other. We re- 
ceived a letter from the President yesterday, written at Hartford, by which we learn 
his health contimiea to improve. He appeared to be much pleased with his reception 
in Connecticut. The Yankees, I expect, will not only be civil but Mnd to him during 
his sojourn among them. In Boston, a great display, I have no doubt, will be made. 
In order, sy|Stem, and arrangement, it is not improbable but they will excel even New 
( 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 259 

York. But tliey have not the pojijulation of your great city, nor the heart -with 
■which its people were ainmated. Let us, however, leave the President in the liands 
of his Yaxik&Q friends for the present, and turn our thoughts upon another subject. 
How, ray friend, do things move on, politically, in the Empire State? IIow many 
Eichards are we to have in the field at the nest Presidential election? Are Clay's 
friends disposed to risk another race on him, or do they begin to look upon him as 
a broken down horse? It is my opinion they will not venture another stake on 
him. You may rely upon it, he will be given up by the great body of his former 
friends. Who, then, will be the opposition candidate ? Mr. Webster is spoken of, 
hut I doubt whether he is disposed longer to sail under that flag. So far it has 
proved to be an ensign of defeat and mortification to him and his friends. I feel 
confident, if circumstances permit, he will haul it down and run up another. Wheth- 
er the new one will be a AVebster, or Van Buren, or a McLaue flag, I know not. 
If he ehould, however, contrary to my present impressions, be pressed into the ser- 
vice of the opposition proper, and induced by them to become a candidate for the 
Presidency, it will be done only for the purpose of cutting up the electoral vote and 
throwing the choice into the house. Should this be tlie settled policy of tlie opposi- 
tion, and an arrangement entered into by the high contracting parties to that effect, 
you may expect to see Calhoun or P. P. Barbnur, or some other Nullifier of the 
South taken up and run in that section of the Union. This will be done to divide 
and distract; but unless I am greatly deceived in the signs of the times, Mr. Justice 
McLean, of Ohio, is the man to whom the largest fragments of the opposition will 
eventually adhere. lie will be the Bank candidate, and that influence will control 
all otliers. He will be supported unanimously by his Methodist breihren and by 
many of the quasi Jackson men, because, of course, he will be called a Jacl'son 
Man ! Arrangements are now being made in Pennsylvania to give him the appear- 
ance of great strength in that Jaclcson Democratic State at the 4th July celebrations. 
From the present appearance of things, I am of the opinion that Judge McLean will 
prove the most powerful opponent with whom we shall have to contend ; but if our 
friends will be true to themselves and the party, vigilant and active — yet judicious 
and discreet — we have nothing to fear from that or any other quarter. I wish Cal- 
houn may be a candidate. I have a rod in pickle fur him whenever he makes his 
appearance. He will find himself in a not les? enviable predicament than the Craw- 
ford and Hamilton correspondence placed liim. I shall be able to give the penjile 
of the United States an insight of his real character and designs. The time has not 
yet come. I again ask, what is the state of things in New York ? Will Van Buren's 
friends all stand firmly by him ? Has he gained strength since the last November 
elections, and is he still gaining? Will not Swartwout support him at the next elec- 
tion ? What is Major Noah about ; and what the present feelings and course of 
your City Postmaster ? What are V;in Buren's cnlculations with regard to the New 
England Slates? How many of them will be with us, and how will Webster ulti- 
mately go ? Will he fall into our ranks or not ? I think he would if he were the 
least encouraged. Would it be good policy to give him :my encouragement ? I tliink 
he is tired of belonging to a small minority party. I do not think we should court 
Mr. Webster or any other person, but at the same time I think avc shouM not treat 
him or his friends harshly. I would not invite, nor would I repel any nian or sjt of 
men. If they think proper to adopt our principles and fall in with us, I say let them 
do so. This is my notion, but I know it does not accord with the feelings of some 



260 REMINISCENCES OE JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

of our friends. You see, my frieir?, I have carved out a heavy job for you. I should 
like to hear from you in answer to the above interrogatories, but not before it will be 
entirely convenient. Believe me to be sincerely yours, &c." 

William B. Lewis to Col. James A. Hamilton. 

"■Washington, August 20, 1833. 
" My Dear Col. : Yours, covering a letter to the President, was received in due 
course of mail, and, as requested, the letter to the President was forwarded to him 
without delay. Your previous letter which I was authorized and requested to show 
to Mr. JilcLane was not received until he had left the city for New York, and sup- 
posing that you would see him and have a full and frank conversation with him, with 
regard to the matters spoken of in the letters referred to, I have concluded not to 
sbow it to him until I receive further advice from you. However, believing justice 
to you required that the President should understand the ground of the frequent 
assaults upon you and Swartwout, I thought it was rigbtthat he should hear what 
you had to say upon the subject, and therefore took the liberty of sending the letter, 
which was intended for another, to him. Perhaps I was wrong la taking «uch an 
unauthorized liberty with you, but it was done with the best motive I assure you, 
and with the belief that it would be gratifying to the President and beneficial to you. 
I sent it to him nearly a week before the receipt of your last letter, inclosing one 
for him. I am, my dear Sir, truly and sincerely yours, &c." 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton (Private.) 

" "Washington, September 8, 1833. 
"Dear Sip.: I have postponed answering your letter of the 31st of August last, 
for the purpose of obtaining the correspondence you allude to, of your father's, on 
the subject of changing the deposits to prevent runs upon the Bank which would 
produce a great pressure upon the community. I have not been able to lay my hands 
'On it. Am informed your brother has this correspondence. "Will you have the good- 
ness to obtain them for me? Will you please provide me such information as is in 
your power, showing the pressure of the United States Bank on the State Banks? 
It is surely the duty of the Executive to administer the government for the benefit 
and protection of all^ not for the fete, and such evidence would well warrant the 
Executive Government to use its (^ep(9Si7s to check oppression wherever it may be 
attempted. Please write. Give me all information in your power, and as we are 
making inquiry whether through the State Banks we can carry on the fiscal opera- 
tions of the Government, and preserve a sound and wholesome currency, I will 
thank you for your views ; and whether we ought not to commence it before the 
meeting of Congress by directing all collections after a certain day to be made in the 
State Banks. That will oblige themselves to come into certain arrangements. Give 
me your views on these questions, on the receipt of this. 

"Yours very respectfully, &c. 

" P. S. — I find Mr. Crawford made the deposits in State Banks without any hes- 
itation as to his power, long after the "CTnited States Bank was chartered, and made 
the bills of State Banks paying specie for their bills, receivable iu payment of public 



EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 2C1 

dues for land as late as 1820 and 1822. There can be, I suppose, no question of the 
power of the Executive through his Secretary of the Treasury to either change the 
deposits or direct other bank bills than those of the United States to be taken in 
payment of the revenue, provided United States bills are not excluded. Answer 
this. 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, September 13, 1833. 

"Dear Sie : Tours of the 11th inst. is just to hand. The correspondence of 
your father ■with the Banks, and the powers exercised by him over the deposits 
would be very desirable to me. I must depend upon you for them as I do not be- 
lieve Mr. Duane has much desire to see this correspondence. I have, and will thank 
you for them or a synopsis of them, as well as all the information you can obtain on 
the other point named in my former letter. Believe me to be, 

" Your friend, &c. 

"P. S. I have been quite unwell for a few days past — am better." 

James A. Hamilton to President Andrew Jackson 

" New Yoek, September 13, 1833. 

" Dear Sir : I am prepared to give a hasty reply to the inquiries contained in 
your letter of the 8th inst. They will be considered in their order and perhaps in 
distinct letters. 

" In the first place, in compliance with your wish that I should obtain such in- 
formation as was within my reach showing the pressure of the United States Bank 
on the local institutions in this city, I have conversed with several disinterested men 
well acquainted with the subject, and others who are engaged in moneyed transactions 
and institutions, who are more or less affected by the change of measures of the 
Banks. They all agree that, although there has been much overtrading in stocks as 
well as merchandize, and although the collection of an uncommonly large amount of 
duties, cash, and credit has induced an extraordinary demand for money, yet that 
if the United States Bank had not changed its measures both toward individuals 
and the State institutions, there would have been no difRculty'in the commercial 
community. The facts I understand to be these : the business of the country gen- 
erally has been very prosperous, and, as is almost always the case, it has produced a 
sort of an infatuation among the money-makers of all descriptions (and who is there 
in our Country who is not of that class ?). Consequently, almost all so engaged have 
extended their operations through the facilities of the Banks, and they are at such 
times always ready to afford to the utmost limit of their credit, in the confidence 
that these facilities would be continued as long as the Banks were not forbidden to 
do so by the course of the foreign exchange or from any other cause. At the time 
these facilities were given and theretofore, the United States Bank extended its dis- 
counts as the others did, and allowed the State institutions to become indebted to it 
in an aggregate balance of four, five, or six hundred thousand dollars, without call- 
ing for payment in specie. Under these circumstances I am informed: 1st, that 
within three or four weeks the revenue paid into the United States Bank on account 



262 BEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

of the Governineut has been much larger than usual, and to an extraordinary 
amount. 2d, That the United States Bank has, during that period, not only not in- 
creased but that it has diinini.-lKd its discounts. It has refused to loan money to its 
dealers upon the very ient security to be repaid in five, ten, fifteen, or thirty days, or 
at pleamre. 3d, That it determined to call upon the State Banks for payment in 
specie of any balance over an aggi'egate of $200,000. 4th, That in pursuance of 
that determination, it has within the above period withdrawn from the State Banks 
about $350,000 in specie, and consequently tliat these banks have been compelled to 
suspend or reducfe their discounts from one to two-thirds their usual amount. The 
following case has occurred: A applies to the branch in this city for a loan paya- 
ble at its pleasure on the most unquestionable security : it is refused, and the only 
arrangement tliat would be made was that it was to purchase a foreign drafc or bank 
check on Philadelphia for which it deducted, according to the exigency of the case, 
one fourth or three eighths per centum. It is to be remarked that the expense of 
transporting specie from Philadelphia, at this time, was ten shillings per one thou- 
sand dollars. B applies directly afterward for a similar draft on Philadelphia, and 
the officer of the bank here turns round anS asks him one quarter per cent, for the 
draft, tiius receiving as an inducement to cash a check of a bank here on a bank in 
Philadelphia one fourth or three eighths per cent., and at the same moment selling 
such check at one fourth per cent, advance. This is what Mr. McDufiie extols as 
a currency provided by the United States Bank superior to gold or silver currency. 
Let us see the effect of this change of measures on the part of the United States 
Bank upon the State institutions and the commercial community. It is the same 
thing (when an increased amount of revenue is received), whether the Bank holds on 
to what it receives, or diminishes its discount. If it holds on to the increased 
amount received, and at the same time diminishes its discounts, the effect is tremen- 
dous. If it continues its line of discount to the same amount it did before the in- 
creased receipts, the eftect is not so ruinous, but it is greatly prejudicial or not, ac- 
cording as the increased amount received is great or not, in either case. As the du- 
ties must be paid, tiie merchants must borrow from the State Banks as much more 
as is the increased amount to be paid, and consequently the credits issued to them 
by the State Banks must go to tlie United States Bank, and if the excess beyond the 
usual aggregate balance is only called for, it must be paid in specie at great expense 
to these banks and inconvenience to their dealers; but if that aggregate is dimin- 
ished one half or two thirds, the banks and merchants will be sorely pressed, if not 
crushed. To make this matter perfectly plain, let us suppose that the whole amount 
of discounts to this community in one week is $1,500,000, of which the United States 
Bank furnishes $500,000, and the nine State Banks the rest, or $1,000,000, and that 
the ordinary amount of duties to be paid, is $250,000, which is paid by the issues of 
all these banks in an equal proportion to the discounts : that is to say, one third in 
credits given by the United States Bank, and two thirds by the credits given by the 
other Banks. This being the usual course, if the amount of duties to be paid in, 
creases or diminishes, the demand does so also, and the several banks make their 
loans accordingly— it being understood between the State Banks and the United 
States Bank, that tlie former arc not to be called upon to redeem the?e issues so ab- 
sorbed in duties until the aggregate amounts to $500,000. Shortly, the amount of 
duties to be paid increases to $500,000 a week. The United States Bank is the re- 
cipient of the whole— it refuses to increase its discounts — the State Banks make a 



IIEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 2G3 

great effort to, and do supply this increased amount of duties to be paid by the 
merchants, and whea that is done their balances to the United States Bank are in- 
creased, and being so, the United States Bank determines not to give them their ac- 
customed credit, but to redeem at one half or one third, and demand specie for the 
surplus. The hazard of the State Banks becomes imminent, and to relieve them- 
selves they are compelled to call upon their debtors for payment which necessity, 
particularly if the latter are still required to pay an increased amount of duties, in- 
volves a great diminution in the prices of commodities forced into market to obtain 
money, and nil imate ruin. Sucb has been the course of the United States Bank, and 
such are the effects. 

" Such are the results of my inquiries. If any more or different information is 
obtained, it shall be communicated without delay. As you say, ' it is surely the 
duty of the Executive to administer the government for the benefit and protection 
of all, and not for the few; ' and I add that to that end you should so dispose of 
the revenue not required for the immediate purposes of the Government as that it 
may protect and sustain the commercial classes against the pressure of the giant 
Bank. This state of things, in addition to the many and forcible reasons heretofore 
existing for cutting off" all connection between the Bank and the Government, seems 
to me fully to justify such a course on your part. But I consider the question, 
whether you will make the change or not, as settled. The mission of Mr. Kendall 
was an avowal of your determination which cannot be recalled, and which the rep- 
utation of your administration requires should be fulfilled, particularly as it is under- 
stood that he was entirely successful. You are aware that I have heretofore ques- 
tioned the expediency of such a measure, and that this resulted from my ftars of its 
effect upon the State Banks ; that is to say, that in consequence of the revenue being 
payable in unavailable paper, (Western and South- Western banknotes) its receipt by 
the State institutions, (if they were to discount upon it) would be a source of weak- 
ness rather than of strength ; and to show that this fear was not entirely groundless, 
our friend Kendall in conversation with me here admitted that for a short period 
after the fact of the change, the State Banks could not use the funds Ihey would 
receive as the foundation of an increase of their loans. I will, in the course of this 
communication, point out a very simple arrangement which will entirely obviate 
that evil. Your first question is, ' whether the State Banks can carry on the fiscal 
operations and preserve a sound and wholesome currency? ' To both branches of 
the question I answer in the affirmative. True — at the same time, however, I must, 
referring to experience, express my fears whether they will not, unrestrained, run 
into excesses which will inflate the currency, and consequently make it unsound. 
The Treasury can undoubtedly curtail them, but if it cannot do so entirely, it is then 
the business of Congress to exercise its powers. The discussion of the latter part of 
the question does not, therefore, properly belong to that of moving the deposits. 
Mr. Gallatin, as Secretary of the Treasury, used the Banks with success as the fiscal 
agents of the Treasury, and when I asked him, a few months ago, whether they 
could perform that duty, he replied that he had no doubt they could. The truth is, 
it is more diflicult to find reasons to believe that they could not (being properly or- 
ganized for that purpose) carry on the fiscal operations of the Treasury, than it is to 
furnish reasons why they should be able to do so. They must avail themselves 
of the course of the exchanges of the country resulting from its business as the 
United States Bank does, in order to perform the same operations. That Bank does 



264 EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

not create or regulate that exchange— it only affords it a channel. The State Banks 
could do tlie same, although perhaps not so conveniently or profitably. However, 
whatever speculations or theories there may be indulged on this subject, experience 
is a better guide,— and that you have,— to prove that they can be so used successfully. 
And let me add, that as the present Bank is to be wound up, and as no other is 
created to supply its place, the Treasury must make the attempt to use the State 
Banks as its agents, and that without delay. Nothing else seems to me to be left 

for it. 

" The next question propounded is as to the tune wJien the change should he made. 
The answer to this question depends upon the mode of making the change. If the 
funds now in the United States Bank are to remain there, and the collections are to 
be made immediately by the new agents, and if my opinion of the unavailable char- 
acter of the funds to be received is correct, then the change ought not to be made at 
this period of pressure, because it would increase that evil ; but if the mode I pro- 
pose be adopted, the change ought to be made on the 1st or before the 20th of Oc- 
tober—that is to say, without the least delay. 1st, because it will immediately en- 
able the State Banks to relieve the commercial community from the existing pres- 
sure, and thus recommend the measure in the strongest manner to the good opinion 
of the public ; and 2d, because whenever it is done, there will be a great clamor (the 
interested few always make more noise than the indifferent multitude), and time 
should be given for this to subside before Congress meets, which it will do in the 
course of a month. The experiment having thus been mad.^ if it be not proved suc- 
cessful it will certainly not have produced all the evils that have been anticipated, 
and the friends of the administration who are opponents of the Bank, will come to 
Washington with renewed confidence and spirit. Now, as to the mode of making 
the change, you are aware that all moneys paid for duties are paid on bonds lodged 
for collection in the Branch Bank or at the desk of the Cashier of the Custom House 
and carried into the Bank to the credit of the Collector, and thus remain subject to 
his check until he pays them over to the United States. The 21st section of the 
Collection law of 1799 (the only law, I believe, on the subject) requires the Collect- 
ors to make up the accounts and pay over the public moneys to the Treasury, pur- 
suant to the orders of the Secretary. Under this authority it has been the practice 
(there is no written authority to that effect on the subject now in the Custom House 
here) of the Collector to carry every Monday morning to the credit of the Treasurer 
of the United States in the Branch Bank of the United States any balance of public 
moneys that may stand to his (the Collector's) credit in that Branch, or be elsewhere 
under his control, by a check drawn by the Collector in favor of the Treasurer of the 
IJnited States and deposited in the Bank, and that thus the public moneys stand, on 
Monday of each week, to the credit of the Treasurer of the United Stales, and sub- 
ject to his control in the United States Bank, instead of standing as it did during 
the previous week to the credit of the Collector and subject to his order. This being 
the case, let the Secretary of the Treasury order the several Collectors weekly or 
semi-weekly to carry the balances standing to their (the Collectors') credit in the 
United States Bank or its Branches to the credit of the Treasurer of the United 
States in the State Bank, designated by a check or checks drawn by the Collector 
in favor of the State Banks, and thus all the difliculties as to unavailable funds 
are at an end. Thus the effect of the change would be to immediately affect 
the State Bank's fund, upon which they could discount and thus relieve th« 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 265 

mercantile community, -without the fear of becoming indebted to the United States 
Bank ; whereas, if the collections of the revenue were immediately transferred 
to the State Banks,* they would receive in its payment Western bank-notes 
which would burthen them at first and consequently greatly increase the present 
pressure. This arrangement is required to be merely temporary, and to give a 
helping hand to sustain them against the monster while he has strength and in- 
clination to do mischief. The residue of tbe remarks I have to make upon these 
and the other subjects of your letter will be reserved for a future communica- 
tion. I have the honor to be, with very great respect, 

"Yours, &c." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

"New Yoek, September 16, 1833. 

"Dear Sir: Your letter of the 13th instant is this moment received. I have 
examined with care my father's papers, among them several letters are found from 
William Seaton, Casliier of the Bank of New York, to my father, written during the 
years 1791-92-93 and 94, but more from my father to him. Among these, the only* 
important letter is that from which an extract is inclosed. From this, it is perfectly 
clear that, in consequence of the pressure of the Branch Bank, in this city, upon the 
Bank of New York, the Secretary of the Treasury ordered the Collector of New 
York to deposit public moneys in the Bank of New York. I will go to tlie Custom 
House here to see what I can obtain further on the subject. If it should by the 
records of that office appear, that cotemporaneously with this letter the Collector 
deposited in the New York Bank, having theretofore made his deposits in the 
Branch, the inference is unmistakable. I will also endeavor to obtain from the New 
York Branch copies of my father's letters, and may thus obtain that of the 25tb of 
July, whicb is referred to in the extract inclosed. 

" Yours, &c." 



^] 



William Seaton, Cashier of tbe Bank of New York, to General Alexander 

Hamilton. 

"New York, August 6, 1792. 
" My Dear Sir: Shortly after I received your kind letter of the 25th. I found, 
by a letter from your department, you were gone to make a tour in Jersey — there- 
fore delayed answering it. You will observe, by the annexed return, that the Col- 
lector has begun to comply with your kind orders, and it will be a very pleasant 
circumstance that he continue to do so, for the Branch is certainly getting on very 
fast, and I think (in confidence,) their direction rather wish' to take every advantage 
in drawing in of our specie. They make pretty frequent and heavy drafts, and 
rather, I think, unnecessarily so — because, whenever the interchange of notes leaves 
a balance in their favor, a draft for specie soon follows, I would not wish to com- 
plain just now, but if I find they persist in thus drawing in, I must implore the aid 
of your all powerful hand to convince them we are not destitute of aid in the hour 
of need. " Yours, &c." 

*The 3d Section of the Act of May 10th, 1800, marie it tlic duty of tlie Collectors 
of New York, Philadelphia, &c., to deposit bonds for duties for colicctiou in the United 
States Bank or its Branches. 



2GG REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

William B. Lewis to James A. Hamiltox. 

" "Wasiiixgtojt, September 22, 1833. 
"YoTj have seen, my clear sir, that the Glole has annoimced, by authority, the 
deterrain;ition of the President to remove the public deposits from the United States 
Bank. It has been said, yon know, that the Secretary of the Treasury will not con- 
sent to make the order. This w^ill not deter the President, who, after having 
resolved upon a thing, never looks back. He will not permit any Secretary, you 
may be assured, to stand between him and the execution of a measure which he 
deems of vital importance to the country. The thing will be definitely settled to- 
morrow, and if Mr. Duane will not, or cannot, make the order, I have no doubt but 
he \\'\\\ bo superseded by the appointment of Mr. Taney Secretary of the Treasury, 
(not fro tern, but permanently) who has been decidedly with the President in relation 
to this matter, from beginning to end, I beg you will attach no credit to the reports 
of other Cabinet Ministers going out. I know there is no truth whatever in the 
rumor at this time, nor do I believe that any contingency will or can arise which 
will make such a step at all necessary. 

" Sincerely yours, &c." 

Martin Vax Burex to James A. Hamilton. 

"New York, December 8, 1833. 
"My Dear Sir: I wish you would read the inclosed letter from me, and seal it, 
and then write to our friend Van Sholten and send the package to him through 
the firm of Rogers & Co. It did not enter into my imagination, whilst considering 
your plan in regard to your future course, with the single view of ascertaining what 
would best promote your owu' happiness' and that of your family, that there was 
anything in the case which,- more than malice of my enemies, could torture into 
matter of censure. I do not think so now, but reflecting upon your kind and con- 
siderate observations, and mindful, as Mr. Duane says, of the consciousness of the 
age, I have thought the subject of them of suflicient importance to suggest the pro- 
priety of your coming to a conclusion without any advice from me. I would, on no 
account, omit to advise with your connections, and make them sensible of the pro- 
priety of the course you adopt; and tlie more you reflect upon it, the more I am 
persuaded you will be convinced that propriety and your own happiness w^ill be 
best consulted by separating the present from the hereafter entirely, leaving the 
latter wholly to the control of time and circumstances. You see how the wind 
blows at Washington, and that we who cannot but be in the fight will have a rough 
sea. So be it. What cannot be cured must be endured. Sincerely wishing you 
belter health, 

" I am, very cordially yours, &c. 

"P. S.— You may destroy Yau Sholten's letter, and be sure to write the good 
old man an affectionate one." 

PtESIG:srATIO^^ OF THE OFFICE OF DISTPJCT ATTORNEY. 

On the 13tb of December, I addressed the following letter to President 
Jackson : 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 267 

"Deae Sir: The impression I entertained, as communicated in a former letter, 
that my health would not permit me much longer to perform the very arduous du- 
ties of ray office, is confirmed by the best medical advice I can obtain. I must there- 
fore beg you not to consider me as desiring a renomination. As the unfinished busi- 
ness of the office will be best concluded under my direction, I propose, unless you 
should prefer a ditferent course, to yield the place to my successor immediately after 
the nest April Term of the Circuit Court. 

" With the truest attachment, your friend, &c." 

To this letter I received the following reply : 

PRESIDENT Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, December 24, 1833. 

"My Dear Sib: Your letters of the 13th instant have been duly received. I 
sincerely regret your indisposition and the determination the counsel of your physi- 
cian has induced you to adopt. "Whilst I sympathize with you and your friends in 
the cause which induces your retiring from office, I shall sincerely feel your absence 
from that station which yon have filled with so much honor and talent and benefit 
to the public interest. Go where you may for the restoration of your health, you 
carry with you my best wishes for its restoration, your happiness and prosperity, 
and that'of your amiable family. 

"I will barely remark your commission expires on the 18th March. If you wish 
April to wind up your business, am I to understand that you wish a nomination to 
the Senate for that purpose? If so, be pleased to intimate it, and your wish will be 
gratified. 

'' Please present me kindly to your amiable lady and family and your dear 
mother, and believe me, respectfully, 

"Your friend, Andrew Jackson." 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

" New York, December 28, 1833." 

" My Dear Sir : I bad the honor yesterday to receive your very flattering and 
friendly letter of the 24th instant. In reply to that part of it in which you express 
a readiness to renominate me, I feel bound frankly to say, that I do not think the 
object (continuing in office for a month or sis weeks after my term expires to wind 
up the business), of sufficient importance to induce such a measure, and as I could 
not advise it to be done in the case of another, I cannot wish it in my own. When 
I intimated a disposition to continue my duties until the end of the April term of 
the Circuit Court, I was influenced merely by a regard for the public interests, 
under an impression that the suits I had conducted, and particularly those I had 
argued with success in the Court below, would be better tried by me than my suc- 
cessor, and that this could be dtme by my holding over. The same end can, liow- 
ever, be attained by my giving him my assistance, which I will most cheerfully do. 

" I remain, my dear sir, with the truest attachment, your friend, &c. 

Before my resignation was sent to the President, I addressed a letter to 



268 / REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

Virgil Maxcy, Solicitor of the Treasury, requesting him to inform me whether 
there was a charge of any kind against me on his records, in any form what 
ever ; to which he replied that there was no claim upon me whatever, but on 
the contrary, that the country was greatly indebted to me for my various and 
most useful eervices. 



y /-'-.'"■ 



/ 



J 



1/ 



f 



CHAPTER VIII. 

FROM JANUARY 1834, TO MARCH 18-11. 

The Bank question — Views of President Jackson — Projects submitted — Letters from 
Mr. Van Buren — President Jackson refuses to modify his plans — Efforts to aid 
the Government — Attempt to assassinate the President — War threatened — The 
great fire in the city of New York — Account of the way in which it Avas arrested 
— I irst visit to Europe— Sketches of distinguished people — A visit to Talley- 
rand. 

"William B. Lewis to Col. James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, January 25, 1834. 
" MtDeaeCol. : You requested me to give you a glimpse of matters and things 
in "Washington. This I would do with great pleasure, if there was any thing here of 
interest or worth seeing, that you will not find in the papers of this city. There is 
hut one subject at this time which engrosses much attention. The Bank question 
absorbs all others, and will continue to do so until Congress comes to some decision 
in relation to the matter, and God only knows when that will be the case. The de- 
bate in both Houses seems interminable. Many speeches have been made, and many 
more have been prepared and are in preparation. However, I think we have noth- 
ing to fear from a full and protracted discussion of the subject. I have no doubt but 
we are stronger in the House now than we were at its commencement, and I tliink 
we are still gaining strength. The present impression is, that in the House there 
will be a majority on the final vote, of not less than twenty in favor of the Adminis- 
tration, In the Senate, it is conceded the majority will be against it. Tiie rumor 
about tlio distinguished individual to whom you refer, and the President being en- 
gaged in framing a charter for a new United States Bank, is utterly destitute of 
founda,tion. , The President has had no conversation with that gentleman upon the 
subject of a new Bank, nor is he willing to listen even to any proposition from any 
quarter upon that subject, until the question now pending before Congress is decided. 
It will then become the duty, perhaps, of Congress to legislate x;pon the subject as 
proposed l)y the Secretary of the Treasury in his report to Congress. 

" Truly and sincerely yours, &c." 

President Andrew Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

""Washington, February 2, 1834. 
" My Deak Sir: Yours of the 29th ultimo is just received, with your views on a 
Bank. I cannot concur or approve your plan, vWe have begun the experiment of 



270 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

testing the system of carrying on the fiscal operations of the Government through 
the agency of State Banks. For myself I am determined to test it, and have no 
doubt but it will work well in the end, and give a more uniform currency than any 
United States or National Bank ever hns, or can do, and introduce a metallic cur- 
rency throughout the Union sufficient for the laboring class by putting out of issue 
and circulation all notes under twenty dollars. There is no real general distress. It 
is only with those who live by borrowing, trade on loans, and the gamblers in stocks. 
It would be a godsend to society if all such were put down. This will leave capital 
to be employed by individuals either combined or otherwise without the sanction of 
Government, and leave all to trade on their own credit and capital without any in- 
terference by the general Government; except using its power by giving through its 
mint a specie currency, and by its legislation a standard value to keep the coin in the 
rountrv. I must stop. The church bells are ringing, and I must attend. With my 
best wishes, adieu. This being a hasty scrawl, without correction, is for your own 

^^^" " Yours, &c." 

The following project and other papers are referred to : 

BANKS. 

New Relief Bank in Scotland. Ptuined by over-issues and drawing and re- 
drawing. See the Wealth of Nations, p. 59. See the Wealth of Nations, p. 56, 
as to the effect of accommodation paper. P. 65, Mr. Law's Mississippi Scheme. 
See M. Duverney, Extracts of Political Reform upon Commerce and Finances. 
lb. p. 66. Bank of England incorporated by Act of Parliament, 27th July, 
1694. It advanced to Government £1,200,000 for an annuity of £100,000 or 
£96,000 a year at the rate of 8 per cent, and £4,000 a year for expenses of 
management. In 1697, its stock was increased to £1,100,171.10. In 1696, 
thalers had been 40-50 and 60 per cent, discount, and bank-notes 20 per cent, 
discount, and it stopped payment during the reeoinage. 1708. In pursuance of 
7 Anne, chapter 7, it paid into the Exchequer £400,000, making in all £1,600,- 
000 which it had advanced upon its annuity of £96,000 and £4,000 for expenses. 
By same Act is cancelled Exchequer bills to £1,775,027,217,10^- a Q'/o aud was 
allowed to take in subscriptions to double its capital, and then from this year 
its capital amounted to £4,402,343, and it had advanced to Government the sum 
of £3,375,027-17,10^. By a call of 15,^ in 1709 and 10^ in 1710, the stock was 
made about £1,157,652 sterling. In pursuance of 3d George I., chapter 8, the 
Bank delivered up £20,000,000 Exchequer bills to be cancelled, making its ad- 
vances to Government £5,375,027-17.10^. In pursuance of 8 George L, chap- 
ter 21, the Bank purchased South Sea Company Stock to £4,000,000 — total, 
£9,375,027-17,10. 1722. — It took in subscriptions to enable it to make this 
purchase, and thus increased its capital by £3,400,000 so that its capital was 
£8,959,995-14,8. This sum less than its advances. 1746.— In this year it 
advanced to Government, and consequently its undivided capital amounted to 
£11,686,800, and its divided capital, or debts due to stockholders, was £10,780,- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 271 

000. In 4 G-eorge III., chapter 25, it paid to Government £110,000 for a renewal 
of its cbarter. The rate of interest it has received has been from 8 to 3 per 
cent. For some years past its dividends have been 5^-;^. No other Bankino- 
Company in England can be established by Act of Parliament, or consist of 
more than six persons. 

It receives and pays annuities due to creditors. 

It circulates Exchequer bills. 

It advances to Government the annual amount of the land and malt taxes, 
■which are frequently not paid till years afterward. 

BANKS OF DEPOSIT— THAT OF AMSTERDiVM. 

The credits on the booh 3 of the Bank being guaranteed by the Government, 
were always equal in value to the true and legal standard of its currency ; and 
better than the ordinary currency, the value of which was depreciated by its 
being made up of light and clipped coin, and the baser coin of the adjoining 
countries. The difference has been as much as 9 per cent. 

In 1609, the Bank of Amsterdam was established under the guarantees of 
the city. It received foreign and light coin on deposit at its real and intrinsic 
value, deducting the expense of coinage and management. For the value, after 
these deductions, it gave a credit on its Banks, which was called " Bank 
Money." 

All bills over 6,000 guilders were made payable in " Bank Money, and con- 
sequently the value was certain ; and this law made it necessary that every 
merchant should have a credit there to pay his foreign bills ; which was obtained 
by making a deposit. These deposits constituted the capital; -} per cent, was 
paid for keeping them in silver, and h for those in gold. 

Note. — This paper was prepared and a copy sent to President Jackson, 
that he might be informed correctly as to the Bank of England. A memoir 
was also prepared and sent to him, giving a brief history of Banking and Bills 
of Exchange, from the beginning ; embracing the Bank of Genoa and Amster- 
dam, with their origin and functions. This was done because, although the 
President talked much about a Bank he could form connected with the Treas- 
ury, it was believed he had very little knowledge of the subject. 

PROJECT. 

A project to establish Offices of Deposit to assist the Fiscal operations of 
the Government, and to establish a uniform currency : 

" 1st. Offices of deposit shall be established in New York, Philadelphia, &c., 
(selecting such places on the sea-board and the interior as are most convenient for 
receiving the public revenue), and such other places as Congress may from time to 
time select. 

"2d. These offices shall be under the direction of five Commissioners, one of whom 
to be designated as President, to be appointed as Congress may direct. These officers 



272 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

shall be appointed for one year, and shall not be appointed longer than for three 
years in succession. 

" 3d. The Commissioners for the time being shall have power to appoint, with 
the approbation of the Secretary of the Treasury, a Cashier and such other officer?, 
clerks, and servants under them, as shall be necessary for executing the business of 
the said office ; and to allow them such compensation, with the assent of the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, as shall for the services respectively be reasonable ; and shall 
be capable of exercising such other powers and authorities for the well governing 
and ordering of the said officers, as shall be prescribed, fixed, and determined by the 
laws, regulations, and ordinances of the said office of deposit.- 

" 4th. The Revenues of the Government of the United States shall be deposited 
in these offices, to be held by the said Commissioners in trust for the said Govern- 
ment, or to the credit of such officers thereof as Congress may direct. 

"5th. The said Commissioners of the said offices respectively shall furnish the 
Secretary of the Treasury, from time to time, as often as he may require, not exceed- 
ing once a week, with statements of the amount of the deposits made in their offices 
respectively ; and also with the amount of notes issued by them respectively, distin- 
guishing the amounts of deposits on public and private account, the amount of specie 
or public stock on hand ; and the said Secretary shall have a right to inspect such 
general accounts on the books of the Bank as shall relate to such statement ; pro- 
vided that this shall not be construed into a right in the Commissioners to state the 
names and amounts of individual depositors, or in the Secretary of the Treasury to 
inspect the account of any private individuals with the Bank. 

" 6th. The said Commissioners shall receive on deposit, and hold in trust to the 
use of the person who may deposit the same, any sum of money of any individual, or 
individuals, or body corporate, and give the depositor credit on their books for the 
same in gold or silver coin of the United States, or in gold coin of Spain, or the do- 
minions of Spain, at the rate of 100 cents for every 28 grains, and sixty -hundredths 
of a grain of the actual weight thereof, or in other gold or silver coin, at the several 
rates prescribed by the 1st Section of an Act, regulating the currency of foreign coins, 
of the United States, passed 10th April, 1806. 

" Vth. The said Commissioners of the respective offices shall, at their said offices, 
redeliver to the depositor, upon his check, the amount of such deposit, in gold or 
silver coin, at the rate above mentioned ; or in the notes of the said office, payable 
on demand in like coin, deducting from the amount of said deposit J of one per cent. 
iov the safe-keeping of the same. 

" 8th. Each depositor may, upon giving notice of his intention to leave his funds 
deposited for the term of ninety days, receive a note payable at the end of that period, 
with interest at the rate of — per cent, per annum ; andif the said note shall be pre- 
sented for payment, and paid before it shall have become due, the interest shall not, 
nor shall any part thereof be paid thereon. The Commissioners shall be at liberty, 
upon the presentation of any such post note before it falls due, to pay the same or 
not, as the interest or convenience of the said office may require. If any post note 
shall not be presented at the office where it was issued, when it falls due, or within 
three days thereafter, the interest on said note shall not be computed for a longer 
time than up to the day it became payable. 

" 9th, The said Commissioners may issue notes upon deposits payable on 
demand, or payable at_the end of ninety days, on interest as is above stated, but no 



UEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 273 

note shall be issued for a sum less than five dollars. All notes issued by the Com- 
missioners of said offices respectively shall be signed by the President and Cashier 
of such office, and payable to bearer at their offices respectively. 

" 10th. The Commissioners of such offices respectively may from time to time 
under the direction and with the assent of the Secretary of the Treasury, invest in 
the public stock of the United States, or of the several States, 10 per cent, of the gross 
amount of the deposits made in their respective offices. The said stock to be held 
^by the said Com^li^;sioners in trust to pay the amount of the said deposits, the notes 
issued thereon, and the interest to accrue on such of the said notes as may be at 
interest, as is hereinbefore stated, and they shall receive the interest or dividends 
on said stock, and reinvest the same in other public stocks, which stock shall be held 
by the said Commissioners in trust as aforesaid. 

" 11th. The notes or bills of the said Commissioners, originally made payable on 
demand, or which shall have been payable on demand, shall be receivable in all pay- 
ments to the United States unless otherwise directed by Congress. 

" 12th. The said Commissioners, when directed by the Secretary of the Treasury 
shall give the necessary facilities for transferring the public funds from place to place 
within the United States or the Territories thereof, and for distributing the same in 
payment of the public creditors, and shall also do and perform the several and 
respective duties of the Commissioners of loans for the several States, or of any one 
or more of them when required by law. 

" 13th. Adopt the 18th and 19th sections of the Act to incorporate the Bank of the 
United States, passed April 10, 1816 (see IngersolFs Digest, Edition 1821, p. 93), 
allowing them so as to make them conform to this project. 

COLLECTION OF PUBLIC EEVENUE. 

"14th. All bonds,* contracts, or other engagements for the payment of money 
to the United States, as well as all money received by any of its officers or other 
persons belonging to the United States, shall forthwith and without delay be de- 
posited for collection or safe keeping in such one of the said offices as shall be most 
convenient to the said officer or other person who may take the said bonds, &c., or 
collect and receive the said moneys, and as may be designated for that purpose by 
the Secretary of the Treasury, the Commissioner of the Land Office, or the Agent 
of the Treasury. 

" 15th. The Collectors of the several ports of the United States shall daily and 
every day, as bonds are executed to secure the payment of duties to the United States, 
deposit for collection copies of the said bonds in such one of the said offices of 
deposit as may be most convenient lo the Custom House of said port, and as shall 
be designated by the Secretary of the Treasury, and the said Collector so depositing 
the said bonds shall be charged with the same. The said Collector shall also daily 
and every day deposit in the said office all suras of money received by him in pay- 
ment of duties, or on deposit to secure the payment of duties, and all sums of money 
received by him for fees, fines, penalties, forfeitures, or otherwise being the receipts 
of his said office, and shall be charged with the amount of the same. 

" 16th. The said Collector who shall be so charged w^ith the said bonds, or with 

* The duties at this time were paid by bonds. 
18 



274 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

the said sums of money, sliall be discharged from the amount of such of the said 
bonds as shall be paid whenever he shall draw for the same to the credit of the 
Treasurer of the United States, and also for tlie amount of such of the said, bonds 
as are not paid wlienever they are transferred to the account of the District Attor- 
ney of the United States in manner hereafter mentioned. And the said Collector 
shall be credited, with such of the said sums of money so deposited as aforesaid by and 
charged to liim as he shall disburse in the course of the business, or expenses of 
his office, and as he shall transfer to the credit of the Treasurer of the United States 
in manner hereafter mentioned. 

" 17th, All payments by the said Collector shall be made upon the check of the 
Cashier of his Custom House, countersigned by the Collector or one of his deputies, 
and made payable to the order of the person receiving the snme ; and the said check 
shall on the back thereof contain a brief statement of the account for which the 
said check is given ; whether for a return of deposits, or for payment of salaries, or 
other expenses. 

*'18th. Whenever any such bond or bonds shall remain unpaid on the day it 
falls due, it shall be the duty of the said Commissioner to cause a copy of s:iid bond or 
bonds, as soon after the said office shall be closed as may be, to be sent to the office of 
the District Attorney of the United States for the said district, and charge him with 
the same in account with the said bank, and the said District Attorney shall forthwith 
put the said^bond in suit, and prosecute the same with effect; and the said Attorney 
shall be discharged from the amount of the said bonds so charged against him, or 
such parts thereof as shall be paid, and for the residue thereof whenever he shall 
deposit in the said bank a certificate of the Clerk of the District Court of the dis- 
trict to which he is appointed, that a judgment has been recovered on such bond, 
and that an execution has been issued therein against the property of the defendant, 
against whom the the said judgment is entered, together with the certificate of the 
Marshal of the said or any other district, that he has received such execution from 
the said Attorney, or if none of the parties to the said bonds or their representa- 
tives are found by the said Marshal, the said District Attorney shall be discliarged 
from the amount of said bonds whenever he shall deposit in the said Bank a certi- 
ficate of the Clerk of said Court that a writ has been returned non est inventus. 
The District Attorney shall be paid his costs in such suits to be taxed by the Judge 
of the Court in which the same is instituted by the Collector by whom the said 
bond was taken, whenever he shall be discharged from the amount of any of the 
bonds so charged against him, provided the said costs have not been paid by the 
defendants in the said suits. 

" 19th. The Marshal who shall receive the said execution from the District At- 
torney shall be charged with the amount directed to be levied thereupon, and shall 
be discharged from the same by payment into tlie said office of deposit the amount 
collected by him on the said execution, or upon depositing in the said office of 
deposit a certificate of the Clerk of said Court and of the said District Attorney, 
that the said execution has been returned unsatisfied. 

'• 20th. All further proceedings for the purpose of recovering the amount due 
upon the said bofids or judgments, must be upon a case submitted to the Agent of 
the Treasury, and by his direction. 

"21st. The receivers of moneys for the sale of lands must be required to make 
deposits, &c., but not being sufficiently acquainted therewith, I omit remark. " 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON". 275 

Notes explanatory of the above were sent with the Project. 

*'ls#. The offices are independent of each other. These offices are rendered distinct 
and independent of each other, because there does not arise out of their formation 
or i>urposes an indispensable connection. When the funds of the Government are 
transferred by either to another, such funds will he received as a deposit ; and so 
cari-ied to the credit of the officer of the Government to whose Department tliey 
belong ; and the transfer will he made in money of standard value or notes converti- 
ble into such money. If notes issued upon private deposits, they will be received 
in any of the offices in payment of debts to the Government, and may be re-issued 
for public purposes, but there will not be an indispensable obligation to pay them 
at any other office than that whence they originated. If those issued at New 
OrL'.ms are carried into Ohio, and then carried to the Bank or Office of Deposit in 
payment of a debt due to the Government for land, they will be received, and the 
Government will disburse those funds there; or the office there having these notes, 
will be enabled to draw through the office at New York, or any other office, upon 
New Orleans, or througli New Orleans upon New York, as the exigencies of the 
Government or the course of Exchange may require. Or if the planter of Tennessee 
receives for his cotton the notes of the office at New Orleans, and with these pays 
his debt to his merchant (^r to the Government at home, these notes may be trans- 
ferrel by the merchant who obtains his goods at New York, Baltimore, or Philadel- 
phia to either of these places, and then the shipper at such place who purchases 
and sends the cotton from New Orleans to Europe or brings it to New York or for 
the manufacturers will seek these notes, as a convenient means for paying his debt 
at New Orleans, and thus the currency or exchanges between the different parts of 
the country, so far as the operations of those offices extend, will be sound, and as 
equ 1 as it ever can be ; being subject always to those differences of exchange which 
depend upon demand and supply, or the relation of Debtor and Creditor. 

" As there is no necessary connection, so there is no dependence of one of these 
offices upon any other. Therefore, and for various other very cogent reasons, the 
officers of what in tlie present bank are deemed branches, are not to be appointed by 
a Principal office; but all are alike selected by, and dependent upon, the Government 
and its aj^ents, consequently the deep local jealousies excited by the present system 
will liappily be avoided. The number of Commissioners is limited to five, because 
a greater number is unnecessary discreetly to manage the affairs of the offices, 
and a less number might not be safe. These officers ought to be paid (except the 
Pre-i lent, who should be amply compensated for the employment of his whole time) 
a slight remuneration for their services out of the profits of the office. To avoid 
this expense in part, I have supposed it might be considered proper to make the 
Judg i of the District, the District Attorney, and the Collector, or one or two of these 
offivTS, directors ex-officio ; of which an additional advantage would be that the 
District Judge, being permanent, would acquire and carry along in the administra- 
tion of its affairs that knowledge from experience, which is so important to an 
enliglitened discharge of these duties; and the ground for clamor which must 
be expected to be raised against this plan, from the extended patronage and power 
of the Government, through these appointments, would be removed. 

" If the Commissioners had the power to make loans or discounts, the strongest 
and most obvious reasons would require that the number should bo far greater 



276 REMINISCENCES OP JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

The managers of such an institution should not only be numerous, but they should 
be engaged in business, as merchants or traders — in order that, by the extended 
sphere of their intercourse with the mercantile community, they might bring to the 
Board of Directors an intimate and correct knowledge of the business aiiairs and 
character of their dealers, and of the course of the business of the country ; whereas, 
in such an institution as this, where nothing is trusted, where all dealers are 
received alike, none can from any circumstances be entitled to a preference, or be 
objects of suspicion. 

"The course of the business of these officers would require these managers also 
to be informed of the situation of the public stocks, and as far as anticipations 
could safely be relied upon, of its probable future value, in order that the investments 
they are authorized to make might be judicious ; further than this the business of 
these officers would be almost merely clerical. The 6th, 8th, and 9th Articles refer 
to deposits by individtials ; interest, and deposit fee. The deposits by individuals 
is authorized in order to create a currency of a sound character, and thus generally 
to benefit the community ; but coupled with the provisions of the 8th Article, it 
will be of infinite value as a security to all classes of the community, as well the 
large and small dealers as the thrifty poor. The danger of loss to those who keep 
their funds locked up at home is great not only from fire or theft, but because being 
within reacb and idle the possessor is induced to expend more liberally in his 
pleasures or his household than he would do if his means were at interest ; he is 
also, by having bis funds in his hands, induced more readily to yield to the applica- 
tion of his friends for temporary loans ; or to engage in speculation, "Whereas, if 
he has a safe and advantageous place of deposit, of ready resort, and from which 
he can draw his money at any time his own interest dictates, it will not be exposed 
to the dangers to which I have referred, all of which, except the loss by fire or theft, 
in a limited degree attend deposits without interest in ordinary banks. Persons 
who are under the necessity of collecting and accumulating their gains in order to 
meet engagements at given periods, will make their deposits at interest, and will 
give the notice required, because they will find that they can at any time sell the 
post note at interest to the amount stipulated to be paid by it, together with a great 
part of the interest, whenever they may require their funds in order to meet their 
engagements. The same course will be pursued by those who live upon other 
means, and those who are under the necessity of keeping funds to be invested in 
their business, whenever the state of the market or the course of their proceedings 
may require them to use their funds. Indeed, a course of most obvious reasoning, 
founded upon the ready convertibility of these post notes into money, the absolute 
security and these being at interest, renders it manifest that most if not all the 
deposits willbe made for ninety days, at least ; and that these notes will form a very 
large portion of the circulating medium, provided " the warehouse rent " or amount 
for safe keeping paid on depositing or renewal is not too high ; and the interest 
allowed is not so low as to take away almost all the profit. 

" Let us test the truth of this position by a practical illustration : A, a retail 
dealer, who has a note to pay at another bank of 2,000 dollars on a particular day, 
say thirty days in advance, receives from his business or his debtors that sum of 
money ; as he cannot invest it in stocks, because of the fluctuations, or in merchandise, 
because by being compelled to sell at a given period, he may sustain a loss, he can- 
not loan it to his friend, because he thus incurs the risk of that friend's solvency 



I 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 277 

and impunctnality. At preseut, it is deposited ]n a bank where it is profitably used, 
or be keeps it at bome incurring all the risks to wliich I have referred. But should 
these offices be established, he will deposit his money at interest, pay the fee on 
depositing it, take the post note, and when tlie time arrives at which he must use 
his money he will sell or exchange the note for the principal thereof, and the 
interest which may have accrued thereon, for thirty days. 

"Or this dealer, instead of being a depositor, will, to avoid the fee on deposit 
purchase a note which has a sufficient length of time to run to meet his engagement, 
and the interest he pays in addition to the principal for the note on which he will 
not receive interest, will be compensated by his not paying the deposit fee. These 
notes will always bear a price in market so precisely equal to their intrinsic value, 
which will be greater than specie, that they will never be presented for payment 
until they become due, and thus they will take the place of all notes not of equal 
security and bearing an equal rate of interest ; and to obtain which an equal sum 
is paid upon their first issue. And thus it is most probable, that the rule requiring 
notice to be given of an intention to leave the deposit in bank for the required 
period will be almost nugatory. 

" Tlie notice is, however, required to be given, in order to authorize the com- 
missions without the risk of being unable to meet their engagements, to invest the 
amounts deposited in stocks, and upon advantageous terms, for it is by such invest- 
ments tliat they are to be enabled to pay the interest upon deposits. But as it is 
not intended that tlie profits arising from the deposit fee on the surplus interest 
should be a source of revenue to the Government, the amount of the fee will be 
made as low, and the rate of interest as high, as can be consistently with the pay- 
ment of the expenses of the several Institutions. 

"But as the dividends on stocks purchased by the Commissioners will not be 
payable except at stated periods, and as the interest or deposits will become due 
and payable or be reinvested every day, the offices will be required to pay com- 
pound when they will only receive simple interest, and as the offices mny be re- 
quired to purchase stocks at a premium, and may not receive more than par, or 
sell them at a depreciation, and thus incur a loss, it is necessary in regulating the 
rate of interest to be paid on the notes to take these suggestions into view, in 
regulating the rate of interest and deposit fee. 

" 10th. Power to Commisdoners to invest in stocks 2^er cent, of gross receipts. This 
power is given to the Commissioners in order to enable them to meet the expenses 
of these Institutions, and to pay the interest on deposits. There can be no dinger 
that from tliis provision the Bank will be unable to meet its engagements. The 
Government deposits will probaldy amount to tweiity-five millions; 10 per cent, on 
that will be two and a half millions, which is not more than one half of the 
sur[)lus which has remained in the Treasury for the last five years, and will not bo 
greater ; this will remain unappropriated during the continuance of peace ; this^ 
therefore, is a fund always at hand to meet a pressure, if one could possibly happen, 
and the interest on this two and one half millions, supposing there are no indi\idual 
deposits that are nut at interest at 4|- per cent., will yield a sum of at least 100,000 
dollars per annum, to meet expenses and interest on deposits. In addition, it may 
be ialrly inferred that a considerable number of the notes not at interest, will be 
kept in circulation; such notes will be issued on all payments by the Government^ 
and also notes at interest, owing to inatteniion or from thtir having wandered too 



278 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

far from home, frequently aod fur a considerable length of time remain past due, 
and will not consequently draw interest, \YLile others will he lost and destr.-yed. 
These are circumstances that may fairly be calculattd upon as affording a rensonable 
presumption that no evil or inconvenience can result from this proposed investment 
often per cent, of the gross receipts; or from the payment of interest on deposits 
at Sfc, should it extend even to the whole amount of the deposits made by individuals. 

"An objection may be made that these investments are hazardous, because the 
Stocks of the United States are fast diminishing, and wiil shortly altogether cease 
to be a means of investment, when resort must be had to the Stock of the Stites. 
In answer to this, it may be said that, whenever the means of secure and profitable 
investments cease, the offices -will cease receiving deposits on interest, ar.d will be 
restrained from making investments; but although the Stocks of tlie United States 
should be paid off, assuredly those of some of the States, will afford appropriate 
sources of investments, and it is believed tbey will continue to exist for an indefinite 
period of time. The amount of investments, the kind of stock, whether United 
States or States, and which of the States, as well as the rate at which they are to be 
purchased, are all suhject to the determinations of the Secretary of the Treasury; 
while the character of the Commissioners, and their continuance in office, which 
will depend upon the faithful and prudent execution of their trusts, afibrds some 
security to the public. 

" The simplicity of this machine, is such as always to enable the Government 
to supervise and control its operalions. Its actual state is so readily ascertained ; 
the amount of specie, and of stock on hand, and the amount of debts of the offices 
are susceptible of immediate and precise ascertainment, and in this respect this 
Project differs mo^-t widely from a Uank of Discount whose situation must always 
depend upon the solvency of its debtors, and is, therefore, if its business has 
approaciied tiie limit of its ability, always uncertain to say the limit of it. 

'■'■llth. Collection of the public rerenue. — 1st. The provisions to this end are 
governed by a conviction that no part of the revenue should remain a moment in 
the possession of the receiver of it, or subject to his control further than may be 
necessary to meet lawful and current disbursements; and particularly that lie siiould 
not have the power of miniiling them with his own funds, and thus, under the 
allurement of even the best founded expectations of returning them, be indue d to 
lend thera to others or to employ them himself. 

"2d. All Duty Bonds are required to be deposited, and thus, if they ae paid, 
as is sometimes the case, before they become due, as well as when they arrive at 
maturity, the money is paid into the bank, and there fixe;l bayond the control of 
the cidlector or his ag^-nts: again, when the bonds lay over unpaiil at maturity, by 
being immediately charged against the District Attorney, the Collector or his 
Cashier cannot receive a gratuity for forbearing to put them in suit, or receive a 
check payable at a future day, as they might now do; they are beyond his cntrol; 
and another officer receives tliem, whose int^-rest as well as duty it is immediately 
to put them in suit, and perhaps there might be properly added an article requiring 
the Di-trict Attorney to make weekly reports of all suits instituted on Bonds, and 
the Marshal to make a like return of all writs received^ by him ; and thus the one 
would be a clieck upon the other, while the weekly returns of the Bank of the 
Bonds paid, or those put in suit, would be a test of the accuracy of the CoLector, 
District Attorney, and Marshal. 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 279 

"As soon as a bond Liys over, the duties of the Collector -in regard to it cease 
and those of another officer begin; and the one ought, therefore, to be discharo-ed 
and the other charged with its amount, and as soon as there is judgment recorded 
and execution issued, the duties of another officer (the Marshal) commence, and he 
is then chargeable with the amount. In this way, the Government will secure the 
most prompt and efficient measures to obtain judgment and executions, and after 
executions to obtain whatever amount can be raised out of the property of the 
debtors, or the best evidence that he has no property. A very large amount of 
money in some of the collective districts is received daily for duties and fees, and 
on deposit this money is subject to the control of the Cashier or Collector, and may 
be carried by either of them under the present system to their private account, and 
thus be held by them or mingled with their own funds. And they ought, in order 
to avoid the evils and temptations consequent upon such a state of things, be required 
to return every day, as soon as the Custom House closes, to the Bank the amount 
received, with a copy of the entries of such receipts. The returns required to be 
made by the Collector could be tested at the Treasury by those required to 
be made by these offices — and thus as much fidelity and accuracy would be obtained 
as is practicable. It is hardly necessary for me to add that these suggestions are 
not made in order to correct known evils, but that they are drawn from that course 
of reflection which naturally results from the fallibility of man, and the frauds which 
history teaches us all governments have been exposed to. 

II. DISBURSEMENT OF PUBLIC MONEYS. 

"Under the present system, or rather from the want of Legislative regulations 
the disbursing officers receive the public funds upon the warrant of the Treasury, 
or the check of the Treasurer; and they carry them to their private accounts if de- 
posited at all, or they keep them by them. Both courses are irregular, and ought 
to be changed. Public funds ought always to be carried to the credit of the dis- 
bursing officer in his official character, and those accounts with the Banks in which 
they are kept ought always to be open to the inspection of the officers of the Depart- 
ment to which such disbursing officer is accountable; nay, more, the Bank in which 
the deposit is made ought to be designated, and copies of the accounts of such officers 
ought to be rendered to the Treasury at given periods, and all checks which are 
paid ought, whenever the officer's account is balanced in his Bank book, to be re- 
turned to the Department or officer at Washington who settles his account as a 
check upon his vouchers. In addition, no public moneys ought to be drawn by a 
disbursing officer from the place of deposit, except on a check payable to the order 
of the person to whom it is given, having on the back of it a short receipt for the 
money. The consequence of these regulations will be that, in ordinary times, no 
officer will be a defaulter, except so far as his vouchers may be irregular, or through 
mistake he may have misapplied his funds by paying on account which does not 
come within his sphere of duties. 

"January, 1834. James A. IIamiltox." 

These efforts to enligHten the President, made at his request, were wholly 
unavailing. He bad determined, before he came to Washington, to destroy the 
Bank of the United States; and after that was done to use the State Banks as 



280 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

the fiscal agents of the Government. The result was a most disastrous infla- 
tion of the currency, reckless speculation, and the extended ruin of 1837. 

Martin Van Buren to James A. Hamilton. 

""Washington, February 11, 1834. 
" My Dear Sir : The extreme pressure of my avocations has hitherto prevented 
me from saying what I ought long since to have done, that I appreciate aright your 
motives in the letter you liave written me upon tlie subject of the removals, &c. ; and 
that although we may not agree upon all points, I shall never think otherwise than 
well of your disposition and intentions. The President informed me some days since 
that he had written you ; and you will see by the GloU of this morning a repetition 
of his views. The times will be hard, and the struggle a great one ; but the patriot- 
ism and fortitude of the people will triumph over all obstacles. Be sure of it. 

"Yours truly, in haste, &c." 

William B. Lewis to Col. James A. Hamilton. ' 

""Washington, February 18, 1834. 
"My Dear Colonel: I have been trying, for the last three days, to acknowledge 
the receipt of yours of the 10th instant, without being able to do so, and have time 
only noAV to sny a very few words. In the first place, then, there is no truth in the 
report that Mr. McLane is going out of office, lie has no intention of resigning, I 
am sure; and I am equally certain that the President does not wish him to resign. 
Harmony and good feeling exist in the Cabinet, and the President's confidence in its 
members individually is undiminished. In the next place, the President will not 
listen to any proposition with regard to a new Bank, any more than he will to the 
renewal of the charter of the present Bank. He is determined to try the State Banks 
as fiscal agents. If the Government cannot get along with them, he says it will then 
be time enough to charter another United States Bank. I think your suggestions 
with regard to some plan, in case the local Banks will not answer, is marked 
with sound discretion, and entitled to much weight. An able general never goes 
into battle without providhig the means of a safe retreat in case he should fail in 

beating his enemy. 

"Yours sincerely, &c." 

MONEY RAISED TO SUCCOR THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. 

Having been informed that ]\rajor Barry, the Post-Master Groneral, was 
much distressed for want of means to carry on his Department, I addressed a 
letter to him on the loth March, 1834, oifering, provided the President should 
approve of my doing so, to raise for him as much money as he required. 

On the 15th March, he wrote to me thus : 

" I have received your very kind letter of the 13th instant. Have prepared and 
forwarded several bills, say $r),000 each, to the amount of $50,000, to Col. James Ree- 
side, to be signed by him on the Post Office Department, payable to your order, 
which I have had accepted, with a request that Col. Reeside will repair at once to 
New York and see you on the subject. This, if the matter can be arranged, will be 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 281 

of signal service to tlie Department, and enable it to rub tlirough tbe present 
pressure. * * 

"The President sent your letter to him to me, and duly appreciates tlie noble oifer 
you make. It has made an indelible impression on the mind and heart of your sin- 
cere and grateful friend, 

" W. T. Barry." 

James A. Hamilton to tue Ho>f. W. T. Bahry, Post-Master General. 

" New York, March 25, 1834. 

" Dear Sir : . In my endeavors to raise funds required on the drafts furnished by 

Mr. Reeside, I found that they were discredited by the Banks, and generally with 

individuals. I, therefore, except as to one which I cashed myself, substituted my 

own notes, secured by 'New York Life Insurance and Trust Company Stock.' The 

particulars of these operations are as follows : 

"1. My note for $5,000, dated March 19, payable on the 
22d May next, disco jnted at the Bank of New Yurk. 
Proceeds $ 4,947 40 

" 2. My note to Mr. Atwater, dated 1 9th March, for $20,000, 
payable in four months, with interest on the face of 
the note at the rate of 6^ per annum. Prime, "Ward 

& King— procet'ds at that rate of interest 19,590 14 

Note. — I paid, in addition to the above rate of interest, 
the sum of $050, being S^ for usury, ^'fo for bro- 
kerage. Tliis amount Mr. Gouverneur, P. M., has 
agreed to pay me. 
"3. Mr. Eeeside's draft, dated 15th March, for $5,000, 
payable 15th May next, discounted at the Manhattan 
Bank. Proceeds 4,947 40 

" 4. My note for $5,000, dated 24tli March, @, 60 days, dis- 
counted at the Manhattan Bank. Proceeds 4,947 50 

Total amount subject to your order, as per former 

letter $34,432 44 

"I will deposit the drafts I hold for collection, or substitute others you may fur- 
nish, corresponding with the days of payment of my notes, as you please. The only 
point of interest with me is, that my stock should not, by a failure of punctual pay- 
ment, be subjected to a sale, as I should thus incur a loss of several thousand dollars. 

" Your friend, &c." 

The Hon. "W. T. Barry to James A. Hamilton. 

"April 12, 1834. 
"Dear Sir: From some queries made by the Examining Committee in relation 
to Loans of the Post Office Department, I am satisfied that by some means they are 
informed of your agency, &c., &c. I have left all the matters entirely in the Jiands 
of Mr. Gouverneur, P. M., and can know nothing of his and your arrangements, as 
to terms, &c., &c. I hold tlie Department bound to guarantee whatever ^Ir. Gou- 
verneur stipulates for, as he acts upon full authority, and has my entire confidence. 

"Sincerely & truly yours." 

This effort to assist a member of the administration, gave me mucTi trouble 



282 EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

and some vexation, at the hazard of serious pecuniary loss. The loans I made 
to obtain funds, were required to be renewed from time to time, I was drawn 
into a correspondence which commenced in 1834, was extended to 1838, and 
embraced over forty letters. It is quite unnecessary to say that I was, in no 
manner whatever, benefitted by it. The books of account of that department 
were so defective that, when Mr. Kendall went into the office of Post-Master 
General, I was called upon by him to make a statement of the transaction, 
which I did in a letter now before me, addressed to Amos Kendall, Post-Mas- 
ter General, dated March 2, 183G, and another to the same, dated the 22d of 
the same month. 

William B. Lewis to Col, James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, March 30, 1834. 

" My Deae Col. : I am glad you intend exerting yourself at your charter election. 
Your services are due to the Old Chief, who has always been your friend, if not to 
other?. Tills is his last and greatest struggle, and we should neither desert him, nor 
even be lukewarm in this, his greatest need. If he succeeds— and I have now no 
doubt of it— in prostrating the Bank, and overthrowing his enemies, Ms evening sun 
will be brigliter and more glorious than his morning sun. Things are looking well 
to the Soutli. Yii-giida, I feel confident, will be regenerated and redeemed. The 
opposition in the Senate are cast down and look desponding. Clay's last speech 
upon his resolutions, was considered a failure by his own friends ; but he carried his 
resolutions, and even "Webster voted for them. Yours truly, &c, 

" P. S. — Have you any doubt of succeeding at your election ? I hope not; yet I 
confess I have my fears. The strongest ground to take with the people is the fact 
that, under the existing arrangement with the State Banks, the whole revenue col- 
lected through your Custom House is left to be disbursed in your own city, instead 
of being transferred to a neighboring rival city. Our friends should ring the changes 
upon this view of the case in every quarter of the city. Tell Swartwoutto pull off 
his coat and roll up his sleeves also ; but, perhaps, as he has to go through the ' glo- 
rious Senate,' it would not be prudent for him to do so. Price, as his nomination will 
be certainly confirmed before the 8th, must do his own and Swartwout's part too. 
The Senate was on Executive business yesterday evening. I have not heard what 
they have done — perhaps they acted on Price's nomination, and confirmed it; but I 
have no information upon the subject. Yours, «fcc," 

William B. Lewis to Col. James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, December 10, 1834. 
"My Deak Col. : I know, my dear sir, no reason why you and T shall not cor- 
respond with the same confidence and freedom that has heretofore characterized our 
intercourse. My confidence is undiminished, and my friendship and personal regard 
the same now that it has heretofore been, and I hope and believe it will ever so con- 
tinue. I know it is the disposition of some to doubt the sincerity or fidelity of all 
who do not approve indiscriminately , every thing that is said and done by those who 
are called the leaders of the party. Not so with me, nor is it so with him for whom 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 283 

both you and I have so long and so zealously toiled. Even I, after 25 years' devo- 
tion to tiiat individual, am suspected of a want of fidelity by some of the cxclvsives 
of the present day. I, however, regard them not, and I hope you will be equally in- 
different to the slanders of such contemptible creatures. Congress, a^ yet, has done 
nothing. I suppose they will get under way next week. The opposition leaders 
are at a loss what to do in relation to that part of the Message which speaks of our 
affairs with regard to France. They have the disposition to assail it, but I think 
they are afraid of the eftect it may have both upon our country and France. Be- 
sides, many of the leading opposition men are directly or indirectly interested in 
those claims, and it is believed, if strong opposition is made to the Messnge, it may 
encoui'age France to delay the payment. One of the on dits of the day is, that Judge 
"White of Tennessee will certainly be run for the Presidency. I am unable to say 
whether the rumor is or is not well founded, as I have had no conversation with 
either the Judge or his immediate friends. Of one thing I feel confident", however, 
that he will not suffer himself to be used, or rather used V2^i ^Y the opposition. 

" Truly yours, &c." 

Col. Wm. B. Lewis to Col. JajIes A. Hamilton. 

" "Washington, February 2, 1835. 

" My Dear Col. : You will have seen an account before this reaches you of the 
diabolical attempt to assassinate the President. The account in the Globe may be 
relied on as correct, to which 1 refer you for such additional fitcts and circumstances 
in relation to that horrid aft';iir as may from time to time transpire. It is intended 
to keep the public correctly informed with regard to the matter through that chan- 
nel. 

" Your truly, <S:c." 

This attempt was made by a madman. 

James A. Hamilton to President Jackson. 

"New Yoek, February 16, 1835. 

" My Dear Sir : An arrival yesterday brings us Havre dates to the 13th ultimo. 
Your Message had reached that place and had been duly forwarded to Paris. "We 
consequently have no notice of its effect upon the government. The opposition pa- 
pers of Havre aflect to consider its tone as the result of an understanding between 
the Executives of the two countries. The Paris papers, anticipating the tone of the 
Message, affect to consider it as the result of the efforts of those who are interested 
m the claims. These preposterous views lead me to believe that the Chambers have 
not come to their senses, and consequently that there will be nothing left to us but 
to take such measures as may be necessary to vindicate our rights and honor. 

" Under a strong conviction that eventually there w^ ill be war, I now protler my 
services la any employment, civil or military, at home or abroad, in which 1 can be 
useful, I prefer the Army, because there maybe more honor won there than many 
other line, and in reference to any, however humble, pretensions I might Ijave, al- 
low me to state briefly my course during the last war. 

" When the contest thickened, and there was reason to believe that the Army 



284 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

over wliich you achieved so brilliant a victory at New Orleans, might be destined 
for this city, I tendered ray services to Gov. Tompkins in any situation in which I 
could be useful. He accepted them most readily, and upon an emergency appointed 
me to the humble post of an Assistant Deputy Quartermaster, requiring me at the 
same time to perform the duly of Issuing Commissary. I cheerfully Aveighed out 
beef, pork, and bread for the whole brigade for about a fortnight, when I was ap- 
pointed its Brigade Major where I served to the close of the war. 

" It having been contemplated to raise a considerable force by the State, Mr. 
Van Bureu has the merit of carrying tlje project out. The governor informed me 
that he would, when the force should ba raisod, give me a regiment. I refer to these 
circumstances, together with my advanced age and condition, and my recent connec- 
tion with the government, that you may take them into view in giving me military 
employment, without meaning, however, to make terms with my country, entitled 
as she is to my best services in any situation in which I can be useful to her. 

"With sincere respect, 

" Your friend, &c." 

Col. William B. Lewis to James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, March 14, 1835. 

"My Dear Col.: Yours of the 11th inst. has this moment been received and 
road. Although the information you communicate comes from a source entitled to 
great weight, still I am in hopes the result will be different from that anticipated. 
It certainly does not accord with tlie information — private as well as official — re- 
ceived by us in this city. But Gen'l Bernard and G. W. LaFayette may be right, 
and our correspondents wrong, and I confess it would not surprise me if it; were so. 
I received by the last Havre packet a letter from Levitt Harris, who is now in Paris, 
in which he says the Ministers count on a majority of from twenty to forty (and 
that is also Ju's opinion ) in favor of the appropriation. I received by the same pack- 
et another letter which is entitled to still greater welgJit, as it comes from an officer 
belonging to one of the great departments of the French government, and who is 
fully in the confidence of the Ministry, as well as of many of the leading Deputies. 
Herewith I send you an extract, which has been translated by my daughter. From 
this you will perceive that a majority of sixty votes is calculated on. 

" The letter of which the enclosed is an extract is confidential, and is intended 

for your eye only. 

" Sincerely yours, «&c." 

President Jackson to Col. James A. Hamilton. 

" Washington, September 17, 1805. 

"My Deau Sir: I have the i)leasure to acknowledge the receipt of your friendly 
letter of the 12!h instant. It brings fresh to my recollection our first acquaintance, 
at.my peaceful Hermitage, w^here I was in the full fruition of rui'al and dumestic hap- 
piness. ^Vhat situation of life can be compared to that of a farmer? What so inde- 
pendent? What so ha])py? The description you have given me of j^our farm, your 
stock, and your improvements, surrounded as you are Avith your amiable familj', 
brings fresh to my memory the happiness with which I was surrounded at the Her- 
mitage, when I had first the pleasure of being introduced to you; and increases my 



EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 285 

desire once more to return to that peaceful abode, from -\vLich you know I was re- 
luctantly drawn by the call and partiality of my country ; and. where I can with 
truth say I enjoyed the only happy hours allotted to me to enjoy on earth, and 
where, if I am permitted to survive my present official term, I will joyfully return 
although it has lost, by the death of my dear Mrs. J., its better charms. Your pres- 
ent situation, surrounded as you are with your amiable and promising family, enjoy- 
ing all the amusements and sweets of rural life, must afford you more real enjoyment 
and happiness than ever has flown or can flow from official life, even of a President, 
and all subordinate to him in the Republic. You must be happy. In the enjoyment of 
your family around you, the amusement which your farm and flocks afiord, and then 
at leisure moments in your library, what more could man ask for here below, to in- 
crease his happiness ? I answer, Nothing. I sincerely congratulate you on your happy 
condition. May you long live and enjoy that felicity which your situation affords, 
and may your amiable family enjoy long life, health and happiness, and participate 
in all the pleasures your present situation must afford, is the sincere prayer of 

"Your sincere friend, &c. 
" P. S. It will afford me much pleasure to see you at Washington hefi)re 1 retire, 
and still more to see you as a private citizen at the Hermitage, which lam rebuilding 
on its ruined walls, to bear a strict resemblance to what it was when you first saw 
it. I have had a full description of yours from our mutual friend, Major Lewis."^ 

THE GREAT FIRE IN THE CITY OF NEW Y^ORK, 1835. 

In 1835, I and my family had rooms for the winter at the City Hotel, then 
on the west side of Broadway below Liberty Street. The following details are 
found in a paper written in pencil the day after the occurrences happened to 
which they refer : 

I was awakened between eleven and twelve at night, and told a great fire was 
raging in the lower part of the city ; that the Merchants' Exchange was in dan- 
ger, where was the statue of my father by Ball Hughes ; and that I might, by 
going there, be useful in saving that work, I was at the same time told that 
nothing could be done to arrest the fire for want of water ; the engines, their 
leaders and the hydrants being all frozen. I immediately said, powder must be 
used, and went to the fire, I sought the authorities, and meeting aldermen 
Jourdan and Labagh, urged the necessity of blowing up buildings to arrest the 
flames. They replied, " powder cannot be got," I said, " I will procure a let- 
ter to Commodore Bidgely, commanding the Navy Yard, requesting powder." 
Alderman Jourdan turned to Labao-h, and asked him if he would unite with 
him in that proceeding, Labagh said, " I Avill not take the responsibility, the 
Mayor is on the ground, let him do it." Jourdan said, " then I will," and turn- 
ing to me, said, " If you will procure the letter, I will find a man to take it." The 
Hon. Charles Livingston wrote the letter, and Mr. Jourdan sent it with an 
ofBcer. Mr. Charles King accompanied the officer; went with great speed, and 
returned with the letter, with an order endorsed thereon, directing the keeper of 
the Arsenal at Red Hook to deliver powder to the civil authorities of New York. 
During the absence of the messenger, Alderman Jourdan endeavored to get a 



28G REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

meeting of the Aldermen and Mayor at Lovcjoy's, corner of Nassau and Cedar 
streets, and with Mr. * * * a former member of the Fire Department. General 
Swift and myself went to the different points to leeward where the fire was 
raging, to determine where the powder could be used most effectually, ttat "we 
might be prepared to indicate such points to the Mayor and Aldermen when 
tliey should meet. Having accomplished this, we went to Lovcjoy's, where 
we found the Mayor and three or four Aldermen. Mr. Jourdan stated briefly 
what had been done, and that he wished to meet the authorities. The necessity 
for usino- powder was admitted by all. The Mayor asked who understood bow 
to apply it. Mr. Hamilton offered his services to apply and fire the powder, 
but if the Mayor wished the services of a gentleman who from his military 
education was acquainted with the subject, he could not find a more competent 
man than General Swift. It was then asked, where powder could be obtained, 
and in reply it was stated that General Arcularius had sent two boxes with 
some loose powder and cartridges, which were on a cart at the corner of Wall 
and Nassau streets, and that more powder could be found at Alderman Green- 
wood's. The Mayor, and Aldermen Smith and Jourdan went with me to where 
the powder was ; but finding the quantity too small, we went to various grocery 
stores and got all we could, and sent it to where the cart was standing. I sug- 
gested that a written order should be sent by the Mayor to General Arcularius, 
directing him to bring powder from the Arsenal, five miles from the city, 
on the middle road. This was done. In the mean time, Alderman Smith and 
I procured an empty lime cask and threw the powder they had in it, which 
filled it about one-third. This powder, under the directions of the Mayor and 
General Swift, was conveyed to Garden Street and placed in the cellar of a four- 
story store, occupied by a Mr. Swan, as near the centre as could be found. A 
piece of calico was fastened to the upper rim of the cask, into which loose papers 
were placed, and we laid the calico on a board along the floor of the cellar to 
the stuff. A canister of powder reserved for that purpose was used in laying a 
train from the cask, along the calico to the cellar door, where loose paper was 
laid. AVhen this was done, all present retired to near Broad Street, except Gen- 
eral Swift and myself, when I said, " Who is to fire this ? — General, as I got the 
powder, I must have the first shot." The General, laughing, said, " Well, Ham- 
ilton, you shall," and retired. I then set fire to the paper with a lighted candle, 
and retired to where the crowd stood. The train took fire, and went off without 
if^niting the powder in the cask. I then went up the street opposite the store, 
found the calico was burning, and retired. In a few moments the blast was 
made. It threw down the front of the building, a part of the adjoining one — 
threw off the roof, but did not destroy all the floors. The fire carried up by the 
floors endangered the next building, and thus rendered it necessary to blow up 
that building also. 

At about this time (5 o'clock in the morning), Mr. Charles King, who had 
performed a most important and arduous service, by going during a most ter- 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 287 

rible night to the Navy Yard in an open boat (the wind blew a hurricane and 
the cold was intense beyond example), returned with Captain Mix, Lieutenant 
Nicholson, and a gang of sailors, with six barrels of powder. It was then deter- 
mined to apply a barrel to the store on Garden street adjacent to that which had 
been fired ineffectually before. This was done by Lieut. Nicholson. Upon re- 
connoitering, we determined to blow up a store on the corner of an alley on 

street, the fire having advanced toward Broad street on the opposite 

side of street, and beyond where the store was which was to be blown 

up. It was consequently so hot, and there were so many sparks and fire-brands 
flying about, as to render the approach to the store extremely hazardous. This 
was, however, unheeded by the gallant tars, who carried the barrel of powder 
on their shoulders, passed over the gangway, and placed the barrel in the cellar. 
A train was laid to the mouth of the gangway, where straw was placed, the per- 
sons present having retired. Captain Mix fired the shot. The two previous 
experiments were entirely successful in arresting the progress of the devouring 
element to the westward. It was decided to blow up a wooden building at the 
corner of Coenties alley and Slip, about twelve feet wide, westerly from which 
there was a range of valuable stores filled with merchandise. A barrel of pow- 
der (two hundred pounds), was carried to that store. The owner of the crock- 
ery in the store came into the cellar when Swift and I were preparing the work 
of destruction, and asked permission to take out his goods ; the General replied 
pron ptly and caustically, " Yes, if you can do it in fifteen minutes." The train 
was laid with muslin picked up in the street; the General saying, " It is your 
turn," left the cellar with all others except myself and one of the sailors, who 
had assisted to bring in the powder. While I was arranging the train, the 
sailor, with a lighted candle in his left hand, was, with a hammer, endeavoring 
to knock in the head of the barrel of powder. Seeing that this would be in- 
evitable destruction, I took him by the arm in which he held the light, drew him 
over before he struck a second blow, and drove him out of the cellar. Putting 
the candle far out of reach of the powder and the dust which flew up when the 
head was driven in, I opened the barrel ; fastened near the end of its mouth the 
muslin with my knife, allowing the end to rest on the powder ; I laid a stream 
of powder, about fifteen feet, to the foot of the stairs in the cellar, and then laid 
the muslin and straw to the top of the stairs and on the sidewalk. The night 
was clear, excessively cold, a very high wind, a bright moonlight. The people, 
in great numbers, were standing at the head of the Slip near the water, to watih 
the effect of the blast. After setting fire. to the mass of combustibles, I walked 
deliberately toward the spectators, they crying out, " 11 un ! run ! why don't you 
run ?" This was a little affectation of fearlessness on my part ; well knowing 
that it could not burn down to the train of powder before I could get away. 
The powder ignited and blew the whole house and all its contents into atoms, 
making thus a vacant space of many feet from the next burning house and the 
store, and that block was thus saved. The cold was so excessive that the en- 



28S REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

gines and tlie ladders were frozen ; the firemen were exhausted and demoralized ; 
there was much plundering; merchandise of all kinds was thrown into the 
street ; the only effort, in many cases, by the owners and their friends was to 
get out their books. After the blast, there appeared on the ground one engine 
which was brought from Brooklyn. It was believed that some cotton in the 
store next westerly from where the last blast was made, was on fire, I urged 
the firemen to carry their leader into the store to put out the cotton. They were 
deterred from doing so under a belief that this store was to be blown up. I 
got on the stoop, addressed them, told thenj there was no more powder to be 
used, and that I would go up into the store with them. They then went for- 
ward. The cotton was found to be in some small degree on fire. It was put 
out, and the fire was arrested. 

My work was done. My cloak was stiff with frozen water. I was so worn 
down by the excitement that when I got to my parlor I fainted. The scene of 
desolation and demoralization was most distressing. A suit was brought in 
New York, and another in New Jersey, against the Mayor; I was called and 
examined as a witness in both, 

FIRST VOYAGE TO EUROPE— 1830, 

Having informed my friend, President Jackson, of my proposed visit to 
Europe, he addressed to me the following, intending that it should be a general 
passport to the good offices of all our official representatives in Europe. I did 
not use it, because I did not need their services. My father's name alone was 
my best passport to society, particularly in England, as the following narrative 
will prove : 

President Jackson to James A. Hamilton. 

"Washington, October 11, 1836. 

"My Dear Sir: In the prosecution of the inquh-ies you propose to institute 
during your absence from the United States, with a view to introducing into our 
country valuable animals and plants, and information calculated to promote its agri- 
cultural improvement, my best wishes attend you ; and I take pleasure in furnishing 
you with this written expression of them, as well as of the great satisfaction it 
would aflbrd me to learn that your success had been promoted by facilities atiorded 
by our fellow-citizens representing the country abroad in a public capacity, which 
they will doubtless take pleasure to extending to you in a matter so interesting. 
" I remain, with friendly regard, your obedient servant," 

On the 10th day of October, I sailed for England in the Quebec, a sailing 
vessel of 600 tons. Governor Cass, with his family, went out in the same ship 
as Minister to France, where he resided some years, 

I took a letter from my dear mother to Prince Talleyrand, which was left 
at his hotel in Paris, he being absent. He afterward acknowledged its 
receipt by a note sent through my banker at Florence. During my short 



EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 289 

sojourn at Paris, Louis Philippe gave me a private audience, when I was pre- 
sented to his Avife and children, and to his sister, Madame Adelaide. The 
King received me very courteously and unceremoniously ; inquired about the 
health of my mother ; expressed his admiration of my father, and referred to 
his visits at my father's house in New York. I also became acquainted with 
the Premier, and was invited by him to an evening reception, where I had the 
good fortune to meet some of the most distinguished people. I was invited 
about the same time to take tea with the Duchess do Broglie (who was the dau<rh- 
ter of Madame de Stael) ; there I was introduced to Mons. Guizot, who continues 
to live and to exert a salutary inHucnce upon public opinion. Through the good* 
offices of Monsieur de Neuville, who had lived several years in the city of New 
York, and also in Washington, as Minister Plenipotentiary from France, which 
office he received shortly after the Bourbons were restored, I had an oppor- 
tunity to see several members of the amien regime of the Faubourg St. Germain. 

Letter from his Mother to James A. Hamilto;^. 

" New York, October 24, 1836. 

"My Beloved Sox: How devotedly have I in my mirnVs eye followed the move- 
ments of the ship that contained the favorite son of my beloved departed husband. 
How often must your miud have been raised to that Great Disposer of the universe 
who was guarding you on your perilous voyage." (I was in a sail ship, as this was 
before steamships crossed the ocean.) " Could my wishes liave wafted you more 
swiftly and smoothly than a bird, your passage would soon have terminated. I have 
greatly feared your delicate lungs would suffer from sea-sickness. Let me hear par- 
ticularly from you, and all about my daughter and her children. 

" I hope you will have time to examine the police of London. Something may 
be observed beneficial to this city. My grand-daughters frequently visit me (the 
mother of their departed father claims a closer union) ; they are both in good health. 
Fanny has become a teacher in Dr. Hawks' Sunday-school. This is very gratifying 
to Mrs. Sullivan. May the Almighty always guard and b^ess you, prays 

" Your affectionate Mother, 

" Elizabeth Hamilton." 

From Paris we went our way through France by post. This was before 
the period of railroads in France. 

By my note-book we arrived at Lyons, December 11, 1836. 

The streets of the city are filthy, narrow, and generally without sidewalks. 
There are one hundred thousand inhabitants — a place of much wealth, from its 
manufactures of silks, &c. The people have the busy, bustling air which 
characterizes a commercial people. There are many soldiers and priests (the 
minions of power and its supporters) and idlers. I may state here the remark- 
able fact that, as a consequence of the Revolution of 1798, the lands of France 
are so divided as that there are ten millions of people who own such small 
parcels that they a pay a tax of only five francs (about one dollar) a year. 
19 



290 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

At riorencG, I had the good fortune to meet with the Duke de Denon, the 
uephew of Priuce Talleyraad. lie was living there " en gargon." He invited 
lue to breakfast and dinner, and gave me much information in regard to his 
uncle and the distinguished persons I here met with. He told me that King 
Jerome, who was living there, hearing my name, had talked with him about 
my father and the courtesies he had received at his country-house, and directed 
the Duke to say, that if I desired to be presented, he would be pleased to receive 
me. 

I assented, and the day of presentation was fixed. The Duke informed 
me that although Jerome was living upon the generosity of others, say 
$10,000 per year, he expected the same observances on these occasions as were 
due to a reigning monarch. I acquiesced, and dressing myself in full costume, 
went with the Duke. At the door, we were announced, " The Duke Denon 
and Colonel Hamilton." This was repeated on the stairs, and at the door of the 
audience chamber. Denon went first, bowing three times, as is proper — once, 
on entering, once, half-way up, and again in the presence of Majesty. He in- 
troduced me. The King welcomed me most cordially, and, contrary- to all 
etiquette, put out his hand to shake mine. He then talked of the dinner at 
my father's house, of which I have given an account in a previous part of this 
work, asked me about my mother, and took occasion to say, " If he could do 
any thing to promote the pleasure of my visit at Florence, he would gladly do 
so." I bowed my thanks. Another person being announced, I retired (keeping 
my face to Majesty). Near the fire-place I found a young \adj siitii>(/ ; she 
bowed to me and pointed to a chair. I civilly declined to take it, saying, " Not in 
the presence of Majesty." She replied ; " Oh ! nonsense, do be seated ! " This 
lady was she who was once engaged to marry the present Emperor, who after- 
ward married the wealthy Russian Prince Demidoff. She is now, I believe, 
known as Princess Mathilde at Napoleon's Court. 

The Duke Denon, speaking of his uncle. Prince TaUeyrand, told me 
that he had received a letter informing him that the son of General Hamilton 
would probably be in Florence in the course of the winter, and intimating that 
it would give his uncle pleasure if he would show me every attention in his 
power. Duke Denon was a finished gentleman, and had been a good soldier. 
My banker in Florence sent me a note addressed to me by Prince Talleyrand, 
expressing his regret that he did not see me in Paris, that he had many recol- 
lections of an interesting character which he would gladly refer to when we 
should meet. 

The Grand Duke of Tuscany is a man of good intentions. He is not 
talented. His efforts to improve the condition of his people are most com- 
mendable. Amid the profligacy of this age in Italy, his domestic life is most 
exemplary ; and in the measures he has taken for improvement — for instance, 
abolishiog imprisonment for debt and the death punishment — he has certainly 
evinced much discernment and decision : better qualities for an absolute 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 291 

monarch than genius. He is much beloved. The enjoyment of absolute 
power is not only dangerous to others, but particularly so to ourselves. The 
people of Tuscany, generally speaking, hold their lands in fee. They are bet- 
ter satisfied than those of the other Italian States; they are well governed 
although grievously taxed. The tax on incomes from lands and houses amounts 
to 25 per cent. Oil, wine, silk, and straw hats are the products of industry. 

Of course, the objects of art were deeply interesting to us. I forbear say- 
ing more on the subject than that, to my very great surprise, I found the Italian 
men and women did not seem to have much knowledge of, or enthusiasm in rela- 
tion to, their exquisite works of art. I was informed that the young ladies of 
high rank were educated in convents, and usually secluded from society until a 
marriage was arranged for them ; some having reference entirely to property 
and rank ; that they were then brought out, carried about to public places, and 
married. This arrangement of marriage for convenience tended to promote 
that shocking practice of " cavalier serviente^'' — an association which the hus- 
band had probably formed before he was married, but which the lady was sedu- 
lously prevented from forming until after the first child was born. I was told 
by Mr. T. (an American gentleman), that the Grand Duke, in conversing with 
him in relation to his subjects, complained of this practice as the great obstacle 
to his efforts to raise up the character of his people. Their lives were essen- 
tially spent in frivolities and dissipation. I saw nothing of this, and here 
let me add in relation to the family to which I was introduced, that they 
were all people having a just sense of duty to their class and country; it 
was understood that if Napoleon the First had been successful in the war 
Avith Russia in wresting Poland, that he proposed to make a member of this 
family Kiug of Poland. I believe one of the members of this family has re- 
cently been in the diplomatic service of his country. 

Januartj 15, 1837. — The Countess Coventry having heard that I was in 
Rome, I had the good fortune to make her acquaintance and to be invited fre- 
quently to dine at her rooms in the Bai'berlni Palace, where I met distinguished 
Englishmen and other strangers. The last time I dined with her ladyship I 
met Mr. Austin, who was understood to hold an unofiicial appointment from 
Great Britain. (As the Sovereigns of that country are excommunicated, there is 
no ofiiclal intercourse.) This gentleman is an attache of the Charge at Florence. 
I also met Lord Stewart De Rothsay, a peer of the realm — a very clever 
man, a most thorough Tory. This gentleman was afterward at St. Peters- 
burgh, where our acquaintance was resumed, very much to my advantage. 

February Wtli. — Visited the Vatican Library, by the Influence of my friend 
Father Esmond, to see the old manuscripts. There I met with Mczzofanti, the 
librarian, an Italian and a priest — the greatest polyglot in the world. He says 
he ."^peaks thirty-three or thirty-four different languages ; he is very affable. 
He showed me a copy of Cicero de Respublica, recently discovered, which he 
says was written in the fourth century. The book was of parchment. The 



292 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

ori"'mal letters were quite large, viz., N E E-. An attempt bad been made to 
wasb tbcm out, in order to use tbe sbeets, on wbicb was written a commentary 
on tbe Psalms in a mucb finer and neater band. We were also sbown a copy 
of Virgil, of tbe fiftb century. A part of tbe Creed interlined witb minute 
representations of tbe scenes described. Tbese pictures were well executed, 
and it is believed tbat tbe work owes its present existence to tbat circumstance. 
We saw a copy, in Greek, of a part of tbe New Testament, written in golden 
cbaracters, a beautiful work, said to bave been done in tbe eleventb century. 
Tbe oldest Bible tbcy bave in tbe library does not go furtber back tban to tbe 
tcntb century. "We also saw tbe " Defence of Catbolicism," written by 
Henry VIII., of England, in consequence of wbicb be was called, and so are 
bis successors on tbe tbrone, " Defenders of the Faith.'''' And tben two letters 
written to Anne Boleyn, wben sbe was in Paris. Tbcy arc quite absurd love- 
letters in French. Mezzofanti said, " Wben Henry got into tbe bands of a 
woman, be was lost." 

February 11th. — Lady Coventry took me to see a group in marble, wbicb 
sbe represented as an antique, and urged me to parcbase it, as better wortb taking 
borne tban any tbing of tbe kind I could get in Rome. I did so, paying for tbe 
group of tbree figures, Mars, Venus, and Cupid, two bundred and twenty 
piastres. 

Note Book. — Tbe people of Rome, botb men and women, are bandsome. 
Tbe former are robust, tbe latter ratber small ; brigbt, dark eyes ; tbe outline 
of tbe female face approacbing to beautiful; a prominent tapering Roman nose. 
Tbe expression is full of intelligence and vivacity, voice clear, talk loud; tbeir 
manners are naturally easy and graceful. Tbe mode in wbicb all classes of 
men wear tbe cloak tbrown over one sboulder is graceful and sometimes majes- 
tic. Tbe infants are bound up after tbe manner of our Indians, but not as are 
tbose of tbe latter — on a board. Tbey migbt better be so ; because wbile by tbe 
latter mode tbey can be carried or laid down more safely and conveniently, tbeir 
limbs would not be so cramped as tbey are now. I am told tbey are tbus bound 
up in tbe morning, and so continue during tbe day maVjre, all accidents. I am 
not informed wbetber tbeir bcaltb is improved by this management, but presume 
it must be, or it would not be continued. 

March 23(/. Received letters, one a note from Prince de Talleyrand, inclos- 
ing a letter of introduction to His Excellency, Marquis Latour Maubourg, Am- 
bassador, and anotbcr from tbe Pope's Nuncio at Paris, to His Excellency 
Baron Conte Acton, &c., &c. 

Tbe following case of Vallatte is interesting. Tbe pictures of tbe * * * * 
family being oftei'cd for sale, tbeir value was assessed and afiixed to eacb by 
the owner. Tbe picture in question was assessed at sixteen dollars. Tbe gal- 
lery was tben opened for tbe sale of tbe pictures at tbe appraised prices, and all 
wbo Avisbed to do so, took tbem at tbe appraisement, or as mucb less as tbey 
could get tbem for. Vallatte, an Italian artist, purchased a lot including one 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 293 

picture, wliieli, after having had it nearly a year in his possession on sale, he dis- 
covered had been painted upon another picture. He put it into the hands of a 
man skilled in the art of removing the outer coat of paint, and this being done 
the first picture was believed to be one of the Madonnas of Corrcfrtrio, and of 
course, of great value. As such, it was exhibited by its owner, and offered for 
sale. The original owner ****** hearing this, sent an agent to examine 
the picture, and take such note of it that he might thereafter identify it. This 
was done without the knowledge of Vallatte, and the original owner insisted 
that the picture should be returned to him, on the ground that the appraiser 
had estimated it as a copy, and that Vallatte, having purchased it at an inade- 
quate price, could not hold it. Vallatte knowing how little chance he had of 
justice before the tribunals of Rome, in a contest with a powerful Prince, became 
alarmed, and when called upon to deliver up the picture, said he had sent it to 
England. There is an ancient and obsolete law of the Roman See, which de- 
clares that no picture shall be taken out of Rome without the permission of the 
Government, and that, if it is proposed to be sold to that end, the Government 
may purchase it at the agreed price, or, if it is offered to be removed, the Gov- 
ernment may take it upon appraisement. As soon as Vallatte said (which was 
not true) that he had sent the picture away, the Government commenced pro- 
ceedings against him under this law, examined witnesses to ascertain the charac- 
ter of the picture and to find out whether it was, or was not, in Rome ; and it 
was thus ascertained to have been in the city long after it was said to have been 
removed. The Vicar-General then sent for Vallatte, and told him he was about 
to put some questions to him under oath, and that he must answer them truly 
under pain of the law. Vallatte then declared that he had not removed the 
picture, and his reason for having given that false statement. He was then re- 
quired to deliver the picture to the officer of the Government, which he refused 
to do; and he was immediately sent to prison, where he remained six hours, and 
then, in order to obtain his liberty, sent a note to his brother directing him to 
deliver the picture to the officers of the Government. He was released from 
prison, but the picture is retained by the Government, notwithstanding all his 
remonstrances and those of his friends. My authority is Freeborn Jones, an 
English banker. This is the justice of the Papal States. 

Gambling in Rome is practiced by the people in the open streets continually, 
and by the Government, by causing a lottery to be drawn every week. The 
price of tickets is so low as to put them Avithin the reach of the people of the 
lowest condition. The prizes are, of course, small. The revenue to the Govern- 
ment is not inconsiderable. 

During the reign of the last Pope (1837), the corruption iu all departments 
of the Government was so open and shameless, as to render it necessary on his 
demise, in order to remove popular resentment, to choose as his successor a car- 
dinal of popular manners and character. Pio Nono was eminently of that char- 
acter. It was understood that the police connived at the use of fake weights 



294 EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

and measures by the small traders, aud that they participated in the profits of 
this trade. 

I was taken by Father Esmond to the college of the Jesuits, and shown as 
much there as was permitted. It was well understood that the students, if 
very proficient, are destined for the Church and become members of the Society. 
I saw the representatives of every race on earth ; aud among others, an African. 
The purpose of the Society was, to secure members of the Society who could 
speak the tongue of every nation and race, and thus that the influence of this 
great established Church should be extended throughout the habitable world. 
I w^as surprised to learn the extended ramifications of this Society ; and par- 
ticularly the minute, accurate (as it was represented to me to be), and extended 
information, particularly in regard to individuals of any note, iu all countries 
and climes; it being well understood that every Jesuit who is sent abroad (aud 
they are sent throughout the world), is to make as frequent returns as his 
means of access will admit, of all persons of note, and of all events and pur- 
poses of the individuals and Governments as can be obtained ; and that thus 
the archives of the College are filled with most curious, as well as accurate 
and extensive information. It was stated to me that a male of an English 
noble family, very remote from the succession, left his country in his youth 
under adverse circumstances, for parts unknown. That after some years this 
person, by numerous deaths in the family, became the heir to the title and 
estate. The family sought by all the usual means through the English Govern- 
ment ofi&cials to ascertain the whereabouts of the man or his death, but in vain. 
It was then proposed that application should be made to this College. This 
was done, and such information as the family possessed iu regard to the means, 
appearance, habits, and every thing of a personal character which was known, 
together with his age aud the time of his departure from London, was furnished 
to the College. Of course, a large reward was to meet the success of the in- 
quiry, and thus compensate the labor of searching the archives; which was 
attended with such apparent success as to induce the General of the Order to 
require his subordinates to trace him from the place last seen or heard of. At 
leuo-th the lost one was found, and the honor of the Noble houGC sustained. I 
was induced to believe that, for the ends proposed by the Society, there never 
was a more intelligent plan formed than this Order. There is great intelli- 
gence, with adequate decision at the head — industry, aud most extraordinary 
acuteness aud skill in the subordinate members. I also learned in this and a 
subsequent visit to the Holy City, in 184.8, during the apprehended revolution, 
that this Order was more feared and hated than any other in the Church ; 
that as the Vicar-General had unlimited power of restraint and discipline, 
the system was invested with power almost equal to the odious Inquisition. 
During my association with my excellent friend. Father Esmond, wandering 
about the city in pursuit of objects of art or personal interest, wc approached 
the house iu which my party lived. I took advantage of this to say to the 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 295 

holy Father, that I lived iu that house ; that it would afford mc much pleasure 
to introduce him to my family, and to that end I begged that he would ^o and 
dine with me. He promptly replied that it would give him great pleasure to 
do so. We stopped, and he, looking about, said, " Colonel, do you see that 
man?" pointing to a person in the garb of his Order. "I cannot go, unless 
he is invited and will go with us." I replied, " I will invite him with pleasure." 
He said, " Stay; you cannot speak his language, nor he yours. I will take your 
message to him." He did so, retui-ned to me, and said, " He will not, and 
therefore I cannot go. Now, you will be surprised to learn that during all 
the days we have been together, that, or some other person of the Order, has 
been with us; that is to say, within sight of me." I expressed my surprise, and 
he said, "Yes, such is a part of our system." 

Note Book. — Left Rome for Naples. 

Naples. — The King, a tall, fat man. At his ball, to which we were invited, 
I found him of easy, unaffected manners. He went about conversing without 
restraint, selecting his partners for the dance. The Queen, who is quite young, 
danced frequently. She is a daughter of the Archduke Charles, of Austria. 
The King is said to be sordid. He collects about twenty-five millions of dollars 
per annum ; also three millions from salt, which is a monopoly, and very dear, 
say nine dollars for 195 pounds, and by retail six or seven cents per pound. It 
is obtained from Sicily, and from the Adriatic. No person is permitted to take 
water from the sea, lest by evaporation salt should be made. The Mediterranean 
is said to be much more salt than the Atlantic. Three millions are received fi-om 
tobacco, which is also a royal monopoly. Snow is a source of revenue. It is 
not permitted to be gathered up by the people when it falls. The government 
preserves it in caverns, and sells it. There is an impost on every thing whicli 
comes into the city. There is a large State Lottery, as in Ptome, and it is drawn 
every week. Any sum may be ventured, and the chances are ten to one against 
the ticket holder. The Neopolitans are great gamblers, and expert pickpockets. 
The Government is purely despotic. The will of the King is the law of the 
land. He, however, has a Council of Ministers whom he consults. Justice is 
openly sold. The criminal justice is administered secretly — the civil, openly. 
The obligations of oaths are totally disregarded. The lazziironi along the quays 
are disgusting objects; their rags and patches exceed anything else I have ever 
seen. The climate permits them to sleep out of doors. The army, including 
the National Guard, numbers thirty thousand, of which there arc six thousand 
Swiss, and they are the only troops that can be relied upon. The navy consists 
of one sixty-four and one seventy-four gun ship; the last is repairing. The 
public debt is equal to about sixty-four millions of dollars. The impost and 
some other revenues are furnished by being sold at auction to the highest bid- 
der. I saw in Naples the lowest order cf merchandise probably to be found in 
the world. Men and boys would pick up iu the streets the ends of scgars and 
other tobacco that had been thrown away — dry it, and then place it on the pave- 



296 UEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

luent, at corners, or near public places, and offer it for sale; and it is bought to 
be used in pipes. The Lunatic Asylum is a royal establishment founded by 
Madame Murat. It seems to be perfectly well arranged. The great object 
seemed to be to act upon the morals— to amuse and employ according to the 
bent of the patient. For the use of the lunatics there was a printing press, a bil- 
liard table, a piano, and other musical instruments; a music master whose duty 
it was to come every morning to teach such of the patients as would learn to 
play ; twelve masters to teach singing, together, and in good time. Of four 
thortsand patients received from the commencement, fifteen hundred have been 
cured, and about the same number have died. Some who had been fourteen 
years lunatics have been cured, and from that period down to sixteen days. The 
freater number of cases are the consequences of distress from want, but many are 
the result of religious frenzy. There were some from all classes in society, and 
from all nations. The women are more diflBcult to manage than the men. I 
saw one woman working at a tambour frame. She was handsome, and appeared 
to be intelligent. She was modest, very delicate, and well behaved ; and evi- 
dently, when we first entered the room, a melancholy expression passed over her 
face, with a slight indication of shame at being seen there. She sat almost mo- 
tionless at her work, without raising her eyes. Her hair, long and dark, was 
divided neatly in two parts from the top of her head to her forehead, plaited on 
each side and carried down behind her ears to her neck. She had evidently been 
a woman of great beauty and delicacy — was the widow of an ofiicer in the King's 
body-guard, and lost her reason from the moment of his death. The inmates 
are divided into two classes, those who pay, and those who are unable to do 
so. The former pay twelve ducats a mouth (equal to about nine and three 
eighths of a dollar). The manner of the directors, both male and female, 
was most admirable, as was that of the Inferior who walked around with us. 
He was kind, discreet, and adroit. This Asylum is at * * *', five miles from 
Naples. 

I transcribe from my note-book a description of the most disgusting 
burial-place in the world — a disgrace to a civilized people. It is a square 
of about four acres, inclosed by a high stone wall, built up and divided 
into vaults. Tiiese are four hundred in number, all of stone, each about 
twenty feet deep. Every vault has a trap-door of stone, about eight feet square, 
laid out in regular lines, which are raised by chains fastened to a portable lever, 
with hooks passed into staples afiixed to each door. These vaults are thus 
opened every day in succession, to receive the destitute dead, and those from 
the hospitals. The bodies are stripped of all covering as soon as they are 
carted within the enclosure. As soon as the burials of the twent3'-four hours 
are finished, the door is shut down, plastered around the edges, and so left for a 
year. The bodies are cast into the vault naked and promiscuously. These 
vaults have been used seventy-two years, and not more than twenty inches deep 
are covered by the bones. Two bodies had been just cast into one of the vaults 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 297 

when I came in, and the door was opened that I might look in ; these were naked 
and had fallen near each other, in a shapeless mass. The bones of those before 
buried were spread over the whole surface. There was a slight stench when the 
door was raised up. I was shocked, and turned away with disgust, 

Left Naples on the 25th April, took the route to Venice, Milan, down the 
Rhine, and embarked at Antwerp for London, where we arrived on the 24th 
July, 1837. 

London (for the first time.) — On our way up the Thames, we passed thirty 
vessels lying one behind the other waiting to get up to discharge their cargoes 
of coal. I learned that there were at this time more tons of coal consumed in 
this great city, to make gas, than there were raised in America. A large hulk 
was anchored in the stream below the city, with this inscription, " Uosintal for 
the Seamen of all Nations.'''' This was an emblem of such Christian civilization 
as rejoiced my heart. On my way through the city to my lodgings, I went to 
Guildhall where the election was held. The scene was animating. By the 
politeness of a policeman who was told I was an American, I was taken into 
the hustings. The voter passes in his name, being registered, and swears that 
he is the person named, and that he possesses the legal qualifications. There 
are several inspectors and registers, the agents of the candidates are present, 
the voter announces the names of the candidates for whom he votes, the agents 
thank him, he passes on and out. 

I left letters of introduction given to me by Louis McLane, late our 
Minister, to the Marcj[uis of Lansdowne, Lord Holland, Sir Robert Peel, and 
Lady Nesbit. The Marquis was very civil, and Lord Holland not only 
attentive, but very useful to me. By the way, these two houses were esteemed 
the most desirable in every point of view, and particularly from the intellectual 
characters of their guests. In my recollections of incidents of travels, I have 
avoided all reference to the works of art, and other interesting objects of attrac- 
tion with which my note-book is replete. 

I was invited to dine at Holland House, "to meet a few friends; " the 
guests were Lord Melbourne, Premier ; Palmerston, Foreign Afiairs ; the At- 
torney General, and one other member of the Government ; also Mr. Harris, the 
Librarian, who came from Scotland thirty years before, to arrange the Library, 
and never found his icay hack He was a very learned, intelligent, and excellent 
man, I had the pleasure to be seated at the right hand of my host. The 
arrangements of the table were most luxurious. The conversation at first was 
light and pleasant; Lady Holland, who was very intelligent and well informed, 
took part. Queen Victoria had recently come to the Throne, and in consequence 
of the dissolution of Parliament, which always occurs on the demise of a sover- 
eign, an election was going on for the New Parliament. The returns of the 
election were coming in, and after her Ladyship retired, the letters giving 
returns received by the different gentlemen, were referred to. The result, I 
may here state, was very close, not giving to the Whig Ministry more than 



298 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

about ciglitcen majority. lu tlie course of the conversation on the subject ot 
tbe election, I was asked by Lord Holland, if I had given any attention to the 
elections in the United States. I replied, J had ; I was then asked to relate 
the process, which I did. I gave a detailed account of the proceeding. Hap- 
pening to state that the respective parties canvassed every evening the votes of 
the day, to arrive at an approximation of the result, and ascertain the names 
of persons who had not voted, and were to be looked after (the elections at that 
time, in the State of New York continued three days), this statement 
awakened curiosity to know how those of each party could know the character 
of the votes by ballot which were cast. I gave the details, which I had fre- 
quently witnessed and participated in. Earnest inquiries were made as to the 
character of the ballots, and particularly whether the voter could not conceal 
his vote. The conversation on this subject suggested the opinion that these 
gentlemen might wish that by changing the mode of voting, the voter might be 
exempted from certain influences to which he was extensively subjected in Eng- 
land. I had learned from a member of the Cabinet that the aristocracy, the 
church, and the moneyed classes were generally opposed to the Whigs. Under 
this impression, I ventured to express the opinion, that by the Constitution of 
Great Britain it was well understood that in the House of Commons property 
as well as persons were to be represented. I saw that the suggestion as to the 
Constitution of Great Britain, by an American of no pretensions to position, 
excited much surprise. The librarian commenced a dissertatiDU upon the 
Constitution, beginning with the "VVitcnagemot. Lord Holland mildly said, 
" Mr. Harris, it is unnecessary to go through all that, Mr. Hamilton is right." 
My name was then first mentioned, and, shortly afterward, Lord Melbourne, 
bowing to me said, " Sir, I have heard the opinion of a gentleman of your 
name in the United States upon the government of England." Lord Holland 
interposed by saying, " the father of this gentleman." Lord Melbourne — " I 
am gratified to know the son of that distinguished American, I will continue. 
He said the Government of Great Britain was ' the happiest device of human 
ingenuity.' " 

Lord Holland remarked, " as to the suffrage, we hold that the electors vote 
for themselves, and as trustees for those who cannot vote." I remarked, " With 
your recognized usage, if the ministry cannot secure a majority of the re- 
presentatives upon what is known to be a ministerial measure, they are bound 
to resign." Lord Holland, — " "W^c consider that as a part of the law of our gov- 
ernment." I said, " Organize your House of Commons so that it shall be the 
representative of the people, and it would give such an effect to their power as 
to make it a completely popular government. Under our system, and during the 
Presidency of General Jackson, his partisans were in a minority of both the 
Senate and House of Representatives for a long time, but his course of policy 
was not changed." At the close of this conversation, the Attorney General, who 
sat next to me, very courteously said, '• Mr, Hamilton, you ought to go to Scot- 



E-EMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 299 

land." "I intend to do so." " Then let me liave your address, tliat I may give 
3'ou letters to my friends in Scotland." I was afterward invited to a breakfast 
at Holland House to meet Sergeant Talfourd. On this occasion, Holland asked 
me to remain after his friends had left. I did so. He took me into his office, 
and showed me the manuscript letters of George III. to Lord North, in- 
sisting upon the continuance of our war. He said, " I show you these letters to 
remove from North the opinion generally entertained in your country, that 
the war of the Revolution was continued by his obstinacy." * 

It was my good fortune to meet at Holland House Samuel Ptogers, the poet. 
On one occasion, Holland said to me, " Dine with me on such a day; you will 
then have an opportunity to meet Prince * * * * * *^ the Queen's relative." 
I did so. The dinner was a very large one, of very distinguished persons, and 
I had the honor to hand to dinner Miss Fox, an aged lady, the sister of the 
illustrious Charles Fox. 

The evening receptions at Holland House were very interesting. At one, I 
met the Duke of Sutherland and his Duchess, and this incident occurred. Lord 
Holland was so infirm as to be confined to his chair. While I was conversing 
with him, he called the Dake, presented me to him, and then said, " Your Grace 
can render a service to Mr. Hamilton, by giving him a letter to some person in 
Edinburgh, who will assist him in obtaining a good gardener to take to Amer- 
ica." His Grace readily assented, and his Lordship informed him where he 
would find pen, ink, and paper. The letter was written, and addressed to Mr. 
Low, who rendered me a great service in that way. Lord Holland gave me let- 
ters to his friends in the country, the Earl of Leicester, Lord Panmurc, and 
the Earl of Lauderdale. At my last interview before I travelled, he said, " Mr. 
Hamilton, you appear to be well informed as to the industry of your own people 
— I wish you would go into the fields, market-towns, workshops, and other 
places where you can see the English laboring classes, and let me know on your 
return the result of your observations." I assented, and did so. I found in the 
market-places and the fields a race of uncommonly well-developed, tall, and 
strong men, who moved and worked slowly. They seemed to me to want the 
knack, skill, and rapidity of movement in their work to be found among the 
American farmers. I did not suppose his Lordship would remember his request, 
but to my suprise and regret, when I called upon him on my return, he 
put the inquiry to me, which I answered hesitatingly, but fairly. He was 
evidently a little disappointed. 

At Lynn, I mailed my letter to the Earl of Leicester, the Hon. Mr. Coke 
of Holkham (the stage which took me to Holkham conveyed to him his patent 
of nobility as Earl of Leicester.) This visit was of a most interesting charac- 
ter. The great commoner of England had been an earnest advocate for the 
recognition of our independence, and as such, in the House of Commons where 
he represented Norfolk for several years, he made the first movement to that 

* These letters were published after this iiiterriew. 



300 KEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

end. In a speech lie made at the liustings where there was a likeness of George 
III., he apostrophised it as the likeness of a tyrant who had cost his coun- 
try more blood and treasure than all his predecessors. For some cause not 
explained to me, I learned that he had refused a patent of nobility from George 
IV., and William, under a determination not to receive that honor from a 
direct descendant of the tyrant. He was a finished gentleman of the old school, 
I suppose eighty years of age, and probably the most extensive and expert agri- 
culturalist in the kingdom. I think he had seven thousand acres inclosed, of 
which two thousand five hundred were planted by himself. His forest had so 
far advanced that he had a sale of ship timber just before I arrived, to the 
amount of £400. I drove with him through a field of turnips of one hundred 
and fifty acres. 

Lady Leicester was of a noble family, a second wife, about thirty-four years 
of age, very handsome, well mannered, having great good sense, and a sweet 
temper. She had four children— three boys and a girl — the youngest I believe 
about five. The present Lord Leicester, the eldest son, a well-behaved lad of 
about twelve, was called " Thomas Coke " the day before I arrived, and that 
day, " my Lord Coke." Lady Bury, a charming woman, the sister of Lady Lei- 
cester, was a guest. I learned from my host that Norfolk was considered the 
most barren country in England. King George said it was only fit to furnish 
metal for the roads of other parts of the kingdom, and that you might see two 
rabbits fighting for a leaf of clover. Before Mr. Coke went to Holkham to 
reside and to improve that vast estate, the land was rented at eighteen pence 
sterling an acre, and by the improved system of cultivation introduced by him 
it was, when I was there, leased for £3 per acre. The sheep-shearings of Hol- 
comb are celebrated (see Mr. Bush's account of the one he visited). As the 
guests of Mr. Coke, the Prince of Wales and Charles Fox were frequently with 
this very distinguished gentleman and agriculturalist. I passed three days 
most agreeably ; the Earl was very interesting and communicative. His private 
conversation cannot be repeated. His agricultural skill, and the management 
of his estate was a system so excellent, that there were three young men at that 
time living with his overseer and manager, attending upon him in order to learn 
the system, and thus fit themselves for a like employment. I saw these men 
going about with the manager, and their being there was so accounted for to 
me by the Earl. The first morning, while the Earl was talking with me, the 
ladies and children left the room. During the morning, walking with Lady 
Bury in the garden, she said, " Why did you not go to prayers with us this 
morning after breakfast ? " I answered, " Because, when you left the table, you 
did not invite me to go with you, and I did not know where you were going." 
She said, " Well, to-morrow morning go with us ; the Earl remained because he 
did not choose to leave you alone." In the course of the day, she said, " The 
chaplain is going away to-day with one of the boys, and ho may not be back to- 
morrow ; however, if you see us go, go with us." Of course, I assured her 



EEMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 301 

that I would attend ber with much pleasure. The next morniii"', as soon as 
breakfast was done, I rose with the others, and we walked out of the room 
through another, and into that ^^art of the chapel devoted to tbe chaplain and 
the family and guests. Below there were about sixty people — servants, labor- 
ers, and villagers. The chaplain being absent, Lady Leicester went into the 
desk, and read the service in a most excellent manner. At its close, all were 
going out ; I waited for ber Ladyship, and she took my arm. I expressed my 
gratification at what I had heard, and asked her whether this was an accustomed 
practice among persons of her rank. She said it was, and added, " My husband 
is going to give you letters to his friends, and you will find the same course at 
the houses of all these persons." 

From Holkham I returned to Lynn, and thence went to the house of Mr. 
Whitaker, where I arrived on the 20th August, 1837. This substantial farmer 
and extensive breeder of short-horn or Durham cattle, was the first man whose 
cattle of that -breed were brought to this country. On my arrival, I found Mr. 
Hare Powell, of Philadelphia, an acquaintance, who had first introduced these 
cattle to public notice ia the United States. Mr. "Whitaker was a very sub- 
stantial farmer — of good sense, well informed, and of frank manners. I passed 
a night and part of two days at his house. He instructed me in regard to the 
raising of cattle; and showed me the cattle in his neighborhood, where I pur- 
chased a bull and cow. He informed me that he lived in a parish which in- 
cluded a large number of operatives who worked in the neighboring woolen 
and cotton mills; that in order to get rid of taxation, landholders (noblemen) 
had destroyed the cottages on their estates in that neighborhood, and thus had 
driven that portion of the populace called cottiers into the towns, or else- 
where. Speaking of taxation, Mr. Whitaker informed me that he had been 
taxed to the extent of six shillings on the pound. With astonishment I asked 
how that was. He replied that when the work is dull at the mills, and the 
operatives could not earn suificient to support their families, they were thus 
driven to seek support under the poor-laws. I asked him to explain how that 
was done. He replied, "If a laboring man, haviog a family, could not earn ten 
shillings a week, he went to a justice of the peace and was examined under 
oath. The justice's duty then was to inquire into the facts; and if he found 
the statement correct, he made an order upon the poor-master to pay to the 
laborer the amount which, with his wages, would give him ton shillings a 
week." I remarked, " And thus the manufacturers were induced to reduce the 
wages of their operatives to the lowest possible sum, well knowing that the 
taxes upon the land-owners and others would pay, in part, for his work." It is 
well known that the poor-rates in Great Britain are excessive at this day; and 
that the laborers are sustained by these rates. The modus operandi is changed, 
but the fact and its efi"ects are the same. It tends to degrade the laboring classes, 
by impairing their independence and self-reliance, and by aiding the manufac- 
turer to make his fabrics at a less price, the raw material being as a general 
rule the one half, and the wages the other half of the value of the cloth, &c. 



302 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

I went to Edinburgh, where I had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of 
Sir AVilliam Hamilton— an eminent scholar— Lord Jeffries, and the Earl of 
Lauderdale, who were there to attend the election of the sixteen Scottish Peers to 
represent Scotland in the House of Lords of Great Britain. We went to Holy- 
rood House to witness this election. There were not present more than 
thirty of the Scottish Peers. There was no presiding officer. All was in- 
formal; their action seemed to be merely to vote. The Justices of Sessions, 
in scarlet robes, were present; and the Clerk of Sessions recorded the 
votes. He administered three oaths : 1st, Of allegiance to the Queen ; 2d, 
Renouncing all allegiance to the Pretender; 3d, Denouncing and abjuring 
the supremacy of the Pope. The Peers then present voted viva voce, and 
many of them " myself." This was disgusting. The Marquis of Tweeddale 
was the only person voted for, who did not vote for him.self. A gentle- 
man was there who claimed to have the right to vote as Lord Sterling. A 
protest was entered against his right to vote by the Duke of Buccleugh and Earl 
Lauderdale. The Earl of Man protested against the name of any Earl being 
called before his. Several voted by proxy; and some by lists, duly signed and 
witnessed, as the Act of Parliament requires. / 

My most interesting visit was to Grange, in Ayrshire, the residence of 
Alexander Hamilton, who was a cousin of my father. My grandfather, James 
Hamilton, had lived on this place— not in the house the Laird now occupied, but 
in a large stone house of which the ruins still remained, covered with ivy. I 
am the only descendant of my grandfather who ever visited the home of his 
ancestors, which he left probably more than one hundred years before to seek 
his fortune in the West Indies. The relative whose guest I was, then eighty 
years of age, was most hospitable. I had there probably as good an oppor- 
tunity to see the domestic life of a Scotch gentleman of the old school as in any 
other house in Scotland. The clergyman of the parish, and several other gen- 
tlemen, visited him while I was there. They addressed him as " Grange " and 
as " My Laird." He had living with him Captain Wriglit, and two young mai- 
den ladies — relations; also an ancient, very clever woman, a visitor. The Laird 
showed me the portraits of many departed members of the family, and among 
others, Sir John Pellick, of that ilk. His two waiters were dressed in small 
' clothes and plain livery. He said to me, '' Cousin, as you have been in Paris and 
London, I fear you will not find my cooking agreeable, for, to say the truth, my 
cook has lived with mo forty years." A very agreeable and singular reunion of 
the family was as follows : At about nine o'clock at night, all the party sat 
around the dining table ; the Laird had a plate of oatmeal for his supjjcr ; be- 
fore each gentleman. Captain Wright, my son, and myself, were placed a small 
carrat of whiskey, a goblet, wine glasses, sugar, and a silver ladle with ebony 
handle* warm water was in a tea urn within reach, and a plate with soft biscuit 
before each person. This reunion was for conversation. Each gentleman made 
bis whiskey toddy in his goblet, and with the ladle filled one or more of his 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 303 

glasses with the mixture he had prepared, and sent it to one of the hadies of his 
choice. This simple and agreeable tipple occupied the party for an hour or so 
in lively chat. The elder lady repeated to the Laird a gossiping story of an- 
other lady, to which he replied, " Ah ! she is a rinsing hussy." I write accord- 
ing to the sound. The whiskey was far better than any I had ever tasted, and 
wishing to send some of the same to America, I said, "Laird, this is the best 
whiskey I ever tasted. Where do you get it ? '' After a pause, he said, " Cou- 
sin, that is a question never asked nor answered in this part of Scotland." I 
felt that I had made a blunder. He said shortly afterward, " Cousin James, 
to-morrow morning before breakfast, if you go down to the entry you will prob- 
ably find on the marble table a few black bottles well corked, and if you go 
round the house you may encounter a naked-legged Highland man." The next 
morning I was up early, and found all things that had been intimated. It was 
obvious why such a question was never asked nor answered. At breakfast, I 
laughingly said, " Captain Wright, I found this morning a very civil Scot Avalk- 
ing round the house in a costume I had never seen before, except on the sta^e. 
I should like to have a cask of any liquor he might have, put into my coach." 
Wright replied, " I think I can manage it." The Laird said promptly, " Hout, 
man, they would find it and seize the carriage, cask and all. Cousin, stay here 
and enjoy the liquor, but do not attempt to carry any away in any other manner. 
Nothing can escape the vigilance of the excise man." The explanation was 
that the bottles were placed on the table, and the naked-legged fellow was found 
neir the house and received payment for his liquor. 

I said to the Laird, " Cousin, is not the Duke of Hamilton the chief or head 
of our clan ? " "I believe he is," he replied. " Do you not, as a liege, gasomc- 
times to pay your respects to your chief? " " Nay ! cousin, not I ; he is a damn"- 
Whig Radical." This good gentleman was so high a Tory that he would not 
allow a questionable newspaper to come into his house. 

I returned to Loudon, and to the society of my dear friend, Samuel Rogers. 
I had the pleasure, in the course of my five voyages to Europe, to visit London 
eight or ten times, and until the last two, in 18-17 and 181S, always breakfasted 
at his house, and enjoyed much of his society. His father, as he told mc, was 
accustomed to have family prayers. AVhen he heard of the Declaration of lu- 
depeudeucc, he added a prayer for the success of the Colonies, which he repeated 
every day until the peace. He believed the feelings which prompted this prayer 
were more common in England than is generally supposed. He said, when an 
armament was ordered to be taken from the tower to be sent to America, the 
officer in command resigned the place, rather than to be instrumental in subdu- 
ing the Colonies. 

The Recorder of London, when he heard of the outbreak of the rebellion, 
went to order a suit of mourning. His tailor expressed the hope that liis Lord- 
ship had not met with a serious loss. "Yes," was the answer, " my country's loss, 
by the rebellion, induced by injustice and tyranny." 



304 REMINISCENCES OE JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

At one of my early visits lie asked me for tbe names of all my children, 
and sent to each of them (five) a copy of his works, with their names written 
by himself. I refer to my social intercourse at this time in London to relate 
an incident of a peculiar character. I was invited to dine at Lansdowne House 
with a large part}'' of very distinguished people. The host asked me to take 
his daughter in to dinner. I did so, and devoted myself (as was my duty and 
pleasure) to her. She sat next to her mother. At length the nobleman who 
handed the mother in to dinner, and who was, of course, the person of highest 
rank at the table, invited the daughter to drink wine with him. I turned to 
my next neighbor, a large, burly-looking man, who directly turned to me and 
said, " An American, I perceive ? " " Yes, sir, I have the honor to be an 
American." " Well, sir, there is an account up there (pointing with his fore- 
finger) which your country will find it very diificult to settle." I understood 
his allusion, and being a little nettled, I retorted by saying, " Slavcnj ? If that 
account is properly entered, your country must settle it. You brought slavery 
upon us, and when, as Colonies, we asked to be permitted to abolish it, our 
parental government refused to allow us to do so. And let me add, too, in 
India the Eno;lish Judo;es have decided that the Hindoo law which sanctioned 
slavery was the law of the land, the law of a British territory. If I recollect 
aright, we are informed by the best authority that, in a great famine in British 
India, the women sold their children to obtain bread." My tone was earnest, 
and my manner so emphatic as to invite the attention of others. The company 
rose to retire, and the Marquis said, " Macaulay ! Colonel Hamilton ! what ! 
what ! " I thus learned who my antagonist was. He afterward met me at a 
breakfast, and when introduced to me, apologized. 

Our country was frequently attacked on account of slavery. I will only 
refer to one case at a subsequent visit to London. Lord Brougham was very 
attentive to me. He proposed to take and introduce me to Lord Lyndhurst, 
then Lord Chancellor, Lord Denman, Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, Lord 
Jeffrey, and others, who were to meet me at dinner at his house. When we 
got to the Chief Justice's house, we were i-eceivcd in his library, and after a 
little chat Brougham said, " Col. Hamilton, I wish to talk with you frankly 
upon an interesting subject to your country if j^ou will give me leave." I said, 
" Certainly, my Lord, — .slavery, I suppose ? " Penman smiled. Brougham 
said, " Yes ! if you have no objection." I said, "Certainly not any ; and now- 
let me say, I consider it a great social and political evil and a crime ; here we 
all agree, and now the only point worth discussing is, how to get rid of it, and 
I now put the whole power of the Government into your hands, and call upon 
you to say how we can get rid of it." Dcnman said, " My Lord, nothing can 
be fairer than that. CoL Hamilton meets the subject in the handsomest man- 
ner." Brougham said, " I admit that, and now ask. Why does not your Gov- 
ernment pass a law abolishing slavery ? " I answered, •' Do you mean the 
State Governments ? " " Yes." I then pointed out to him that the men who 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 305 

controlled the States were slaveholders to a man, and that it could not be 
expected they would pass a law which would break up their whole social sys- 
tem, and consequently impoverish them and their children ; surely, that is 
more than can be expected from poor human nature. Besides, they have been 
accustomed to it for centuries, and do not think of it as you and I do." 
Brougham — " Well, then, why does not the Federal Government abolish it ? " 
Hamilton — " That Government has no power under the Constitution to do so." 
Brougham — " Then why does not Congr.^ss alter the Constitution?" Hamil- 
ton — '' The Congress derives all its power from the Constitution ; it has no 
power to enlarge or diminish the powers of the Constitution." I then went on 
to explain that the Constitution could only be altered with the consent of the 
State Legislatures. Brougham rose, took my hand, thanked me, and was about 
to take leave, when the Chief Justice interposed. " I wish to talk with Mr. 
Hamilton on another subject." He asked me if I was a lawyer. I said, " Yes." 
He then said, '• I have introduced a bill to authorize parties in suits to be ex- 
amined as witnesses. Allow me to give you a printed copy of that bill, and to 
hope that you will give me your opinion on the subject." I received it with 
thanks, brought the bill to New York, and put it into the hands of a learned 
lawyer. I believe this originated the Act passed by our State Legislature on 
that subject. Lord Benman was one of the most gentle, kind, and interesting 
men I ever saw. I visited him afterward, and had much conversation with 
him in relation to public aifairs. Lord Brougham presented me with a portion 
of his works. The dinner came off. To show how Brougham's very extensive 
knowledge was generally conceded : conversing with Earl Spencer, we differed 
as to a question of fact. Spencer said, '• I am not sure, but Brougham will 
tell us how the matter is." On one occasion, I met with Sir * * * -^^bo was 
Minister of Woods and Forests. Talking about the various languages in the 
kingdom, he said, " I was a candidate in Yorkshire, and at the hustings when 
I was to speak it was necessary for me to have a person near me to interpret 
the questions put to me in the language of the people." There are four differ- 
ent languages spoken in the kingdom, exclusive of that spoken in Yorkshire, 
and the people who speak English do not understand the language of the Irish, 
Scotch, or Welch. Our system of Common Schools would do away with this 
evil The Established Church has been the obstacle. She has insisted that 
she must control the education of the people. 

Lord Holland told me that he had seen much of Prince Talleyrand when he 
was Ambassador in England in 1832, Talking of the distiuguislied men he 
had met, he said the three most powerful intellects were Napoleon, Charles 
Fox, and Alexander Hamilton. His affection for my father was unbounded. 
Holland asked me if I had seen the Prince ; I told him of the unsuccessful 
efforts I had made to do so, and intimated that perhaps he did not care to see me. 
He replied, "You are mistaken; you owe] it to him as well as to yourself not 
20 



30G REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

■to leave Europe without visiting liim. It will afford him very great pleasure 
to see jou." 

Froiu England I went to Paris. On my way to Dover, I rode with the 
driver as I most often did when I travelled in the stage coaches. Expressing 
my regret to the driver that I did not know where to purchase a good terrier to 
take home, he said there was no difficulty in getting them well-trained and 
cheap in London. I asked him what a dog and slut would cost. He replied, 
" the best, five pounds," (about $20). I then told him the ship n^'estmmster lay 
in St. Catharine's Dock, I was to sail in her for America on the 8th October, 
that my carriage and servant were on board of her, and if he would purchase 
for me two good terriers, and put them on board the ship, I would give him my 
name and the five pounds. He said he would do so. I gave him the money 
and my card, writing upon it the name of the vessel, &c. When we stopped to 
change horses and the driver, I said to him, " Now my good fellow, do your 
duty to me." He offered me his name, I told him that was useless, we should 
never meet again, and I left the whole matter to him. I had confidence in 
his honesty. When I went on board the vessel, at Portsmouth, on the 10th 
October, the dogs were there. The male, called Boxer, was a famous rat- 
catcher. I record this evidence of the integrity of John Bull with great 
pleasure. 

On my arrival in Paris, I addressed a note to Prince Talleyrand, then at 
Yalengay, proposing to visit him whenever it would be agreeable to him to re- 
ceive me. He promptly and courteously replied that it would give him pleasure 
to see me any day that I should come to Valencay. I replied that I would be 
there on a given day. My son and I left Paris, and posted to Valengay, 
travelling night and day, and arrived there at 11 A.M. of the day I had 
mentioned. We were received by a son of the Duke Denon, the Prince's 
grand nephew, who told us that his uncle had taken his accustomed ride ; that 
he dined at four o'clock, but wished me to be in the drawing-room half an hour 
before that time, that he might see me before his other guests arrived. This 
circumstance did not tend to remove my distrust of his sincerity. I amused 
myself; was dressed, and went to the drawing-room before the appointed time. 
One of the three or four rooms C7i suite had the pictures at large of Napoleon, 
Louis XYIIL, Charles X., and Louis Philippe. That of Napoleon was the 
orif^inal from which we see the Emperor in his full royal robes. On another 
part of the walls were the portraits of other kings and distinguished men which 
had been presented to this most distinguished statesman. Waiting in that 
room I heard the wagon in which he was rolled along coming over the marble 
pavement of the large hall. It stopped. I determined that it was becoming 
in me to walk out to meet him, and that in doing so I might take him un- 
awares. He was standing up leaning against the hand-rail of tTie stairs. I 
held out my hand, he took it in both of his, and said with evident feeling, 
^' Thank God, I see the son of my dearest friend ! " This was conclusive. I 



REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 307 

had done him injustice. Nothing could he more kind and affectionate than he 
was during the three or four days I remained with him. My son, who spoke 
French, was always seated at dinner at his left hand. I always lianded his 
niece, the Duchess Denon, in to dinner, and sat next to her. She spoke English 
with as much ease and as readily as I did. On one occasion, speaking of the 
Prince's Memoirs, she said, " You will be gratified to see them. He speaks of 
all the distinguished men he met with in your country, and particularly of 
your father." She told me there were three copies of them — she had one, 
Dehacour (whom I had known when Minister Extraordinary in this country) 
had one, and one other copy was in England. They were not to be published 
until thirty years after his death (which happened on the 17th day of May, 
1838). Tlie Prince when I visited him was, I believe, eighty years of age. 
He appeared to be toothless. The little hair he had was white ; he wore a 
large white neck-cloth which came on his chin. I endeavored to find in his face 
the index of his great mind, but in vain. His conversation was animated, and 
his temper kind. His coat was a frock. He was lame from his infancy, and 
so much so, that he walked with some difficulty, although he told me he had 
been a good horseman in his day, and followed the hounds with success. His 
lameness happened this wise. When an infant, he was sent to the family 
estate to be nursed — a very common practice among the nobility of that day. 
While in the hands of his foster mother, his ankle joint was injured. The 
nurse, fearing to inform his parents, attempted by bandages to make it right. 
When he was brought home, seeing that he was to be a cripple, his parents 
wei-e advised to destroy what had been done, and to set the joint again. This 
was tried without success, and left him in a worse plight than before. His con- 
versation was instructive and interesting. I can only repeat some of the 
incidents and anecdotes he related. I told his niece I wished his autograph ; 
she said he never wrote. " Every day a courier comes from Paris with letters 
to him from the King, or one to the Ministers. You will observe he retires 
for a short time every evening about eight o'clock, this is to receive and answer 
letters. He has two persons to whom he dictates — one letter to be sent, and 
the other to be retained." He told me, when he was engaged with public affairs 
he ate but one meal — his dinner — but before he went out in the morning at 
about ten o'clock, he drank a large cup of coffee and milk. This sustained 
him without at all influencing his mind, and thus it was that he was capable 
of getting through with his immense labor. His evenings were given to society. 
When he was about to sail for America he was detained some days at Dover, 
and being informed that there was an American gentleman who had rooms in 
the hotel, he said, " Being anxious to learn something more than I knew of the 
country to which I was going, I sent up my name, and was invited to come up. 
I found the gentleman W'ell informed of the localities and of the distinguished 
men of the country, of all of whom he spoke frankly and sincerely. After my 
visit was too much prolonged, I said, 'Sir, I sail in that ship to-morrow, for 



308 REMINISCENCES OF JAMES A. HAMILTON. 

America, and will, with pleasure, take letters or any tiling else you please to send 
to 3'our friends in America.' He replied, ' I thank you, sir, but I am of all men 
the least likely to have a friend in America.' 1 went to the landlord, inquired 
the name of the gentleman I had seen — he was Benedict Arnold. An upbraid- 
ing conscience." One day he said to me, " I wish you to go to my office with 
me, to see a likeness I have of your father ; you remember him ? " " Certainly, 
well." He rose, and I offered him my arm. "I cannot be better supported." 
He took from the mantel a miniature on Sfevres china, and handed it to mc. I 
said it was younger than when I knew my father, but was very like. " If you 
will permit me, I will relate what occurred in connection with that miniature, 
and that scelerat Burr." I bowed assent. He continued: " When I was Min- 
ister of Foreign Affairs, Burr came to Paris. I knew of his arrival. Pie ad- 
dressed a note to me expressing a wish to call upon rae. I had known him in 
New York; he had been Vice-President of the United States. As Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, it would not have been proper on my part to refuse to see so 
distinguished a man — the wretch — I hated him ; he had deprived me of my 
dearest friend. I sent one of my attaches, and instructed him to say to him : 
'The Minister of Foreign Affairs will receive Col. Burr at his hotel, at four 
o'clock to-morrow afternoon ; but he thinks it is due to Col. Burr to inform him 
that the miniature of General Hamilton always hangs over his mantel piece.' 
I did not see him. I knew where he was, and when he left the city. I ordered 
his letters to be delivered to him when he got five leagues from Paris. This is 
the miniature to which I referred. (It was afterwards sent to me, and I now 
have it.) The original, and a copy on Sevres china were sent to, and received 
by your good mother. I will state further, ' time soothes our sorrows.' My 
dear friend, your father, promised to send your eldest brother to pass two years 
in Paris with me, to finish his education, I had his rooms all prepared at my 
hotel, and the vessel by which I expected he would arrive brought the news of 
bis death. I dwell with much pleasure upon all these events; they bring back 
the recollections of my friend, your father, altogether the greatest intellect and 
best man of his country." At a large dinner, the Duke of Allara, aid-de- 
camp of Wellington in the Spanish War, and aftersvard Ambassador from 
Spain to London, being the distinguished guest who handed the Duchess in to 
dinner, at the close of the dinner, the Prince addressed him in these words : 
" Monsieur le Due, it is generally believed that the people of America are a 
mere matter-of-fact people. I relate what goes to show they are a people of 
sentiment. On the tower of Independence Hall in Chestnut street, Philadel- 
phia, there is a nightly watchman who calls the hour of the night, and the